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After the accidental death of their six-year-old daughter, the Hughes family escape their busy upscale suburban life and head to their isolated cottage for some quality time. An evening with their friendly neighbors is suddenly interrupted when one mans obsession with perfection escalates into a violent struggle, forcing the families to go beyond what they ever thought they were capable of in order to survive. Written by
Suspenseful first act followed by a lackluster finale sapped by miscasting
"In Their Skin" follows a fairly common premise among post-millennial horror films: a family vacationing in a remote summer home find themselves trapped and preyed upon by a group of killers. Here, the family is an unsuspecting wealthy couple who has just lost one of their two children; playing counterpart is another family who yearns to live as them.
While the central premise of the film is certainly straightforward and unoriginal (comparisons to "Funny Games" and "The Strangers" are inevitable), the spin here with the antagonists attempting to simulate lives of opulence and wealth is certainly different; the problem is that this central difference does not necessarily elevate the film's other shortcomings.
Things start out fairly standard, and suspense is built tenaciously over the first forty-five minutes to an hour quite impressively. The problem? It disappears once the antagonists take full hold. This could partly be a scripting issue that leaves the film feeling uneven, but it's also an issue of performances as good as James D'Arcy is, I had trouble believing him in this role, especially as the film progressed; Joshua Close's performance was slightly more believable, but even still, both of the male leads seemed miscast. Selma Blair and Rachel Miner however both work really well in the film; Miner is especially phenomenal here. The film ends with the suggestion of a family restored, but the details of the horrendous events that precede it seem undercooked by the end.
Overall, "In Their Skin" is an unusual mashup of home invasion thriller conventions with vague social commentary and a problematic chemistry among the cast. The first half of the film is remarkable in building a sense of realistic suspense, but the film dovetails into mediocrity once the villains take charge. While not a bad film by any means, it still leaves a great deal to be desired in terms of scripting and casting. Worth a watch for the moody cinematography and applause-worthy buildup of tension no less. 5/10.
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