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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

PERFECT SKIN -- DVD Review by Porfle

A darkly voluptuous visual sense pervades director and co-writer Kevin Chicken's disturbing horror thriller PERFECT SKIN (Indican Pictures, 2018). It's so richly, perversely eye-pleasing, in fact, that it makes the equally entrancing story and performances even more compelling and almost seductive.

Not to say, however, that much of what we see isn't utterly hideous. Late in the story we're shocked by scenes of gore which, while not prolonged or overly gratuitous, still wield a potent gut-punch. And some of the images are so bizarre as to weave a strange fascination like something out of a fever dream.

But before we descend to that level of dizzying horror, we first meet Polish immigrant Katia (THE SHADOWS, THE LOOKING GLASS), recently ousted from her job as an au pair and currently out on the streets of London without a pence or a place to stay.

She manages to move in with her friend Lucy (Jo Woodcock, DORIAN GRAY, MONOCHROME), who introduces her to tattoo artist Bob Reid (Richard Brake, THOR: THE DARK WORLD, BATMAN BEGINS, HANNIBAL RISING, "Game of Thrones").   

Three things happen: (1) Lucy is called back to her native Australia due to an emergency and leaves the rent money with Katia, (2) Katia runs out to a nightclub and goes on a drunken bender with the rent money (no wonder she lost her job as an au pair), and (3) we discover that Bob's a weirdly-disturbed dude who's into extreme body modification and has a disease that's robbing him of his skills as a fine tattoo artist.

Long story short--Bob covets Katia's untarnished skin as the perfect canvas for his final tattoo masterpiece, so he kidnaps her and locks her in the basement of his tattoo parlor. The rest of the film shows Katia's long, agonizing descent into body modification hell as an increasingly bugged-out Bob has his way with her.

Meanwhile, the director has his way with the camera and with us, making all of this look somehow darkly beautiful and fervidly horrific at the same time. It reminds me of how Bruce Timm's animated "Batman" cartoons from the 1990s were drawn using black paper instead of white, as most of these shots seems as though they've been drawn out of the darkness itself and finely etched into haunting, modern Gothic images.

Various plot threads include a missing person police investigation, the return of Lucy and her very unfortunate involvement in the ongoing situation, and the sight of Bob being a divorced dad trying to work out visitation with his kids. (The latter almost, but not quite, humanizes him.) 

Most of all, of course, is the continuing evolution of Katia into an unwilling work of demented art that's ultimately both hideous and fascinating.  Surrounded by death and horror in busy Bob's basement, she seems to be giving in to him as her will seeps away.

But is it Stockholm Syndrome, or simply her attempt to lull him into a false sense of complacency before trying a daring escape?  Either way, her transformation is riveting, and we wonder just what kind of monstrous human artwork she's destined to become at the hands of this enigmatic madman.

To reveal any more would lessen the deeply suspenseful narrative that PERFECT SKIN so deftly weaves. With an excellent cast and outstanding production values, it's an experience both viscerally repellent and strangely, disturbingly captivating.

Buy it at Indican Pictures

Runtime: 80 minutes
Format: 2:35 HD
Sound: Dolby SR
Rating: R
Language: English
Captions: English
Extras: Trailers



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