This film is in French, despite the trailer included below. FYI.
'In My Skin aka Dans Ma Peau' is a disturbing trip through one woman's mental collapse and obsession with herself. This film is written, directed and starred in by Marina de Van. I had never heard of her before this, but I know want to pursue her other films. She has a unique quality to her that is both untouchable and very approachable. I can't quite put my finger on it, but she commnands your attention when she's on the screen. Not too mention that she is a very good director, actress and writer. My only complaint about this film was that the ending was a bit ambiguous and lacked closure. If she could have tightened it up a bit, I would be saying that this would be a part of my library some day.... as it stands now, only time will tell. As mentioned above, this is a French film. (You are all aware of my feelings on the French cinema, if you've read my blog before.) The reason this film even showed up on my radar was because of the outstanding reviews I've been reading for a while now. It was listed on several lists including the most disturbing films of recent and the best "horror" films of recent. I think it qualifies on both lists, but not in a traditional sense. What Marina has created here is something beyond horror and beyond a thriller or drama. It's mostly what I would call, a psychological horror. What's disturbing and horrifying about this is not so much what's happening due to outside factors, but what's inside. Her mind is the villan and she is a willing victim. I think that's why it was such a refreshing chance of pace from the usual fare that's out there right now. Thank god for people like Marina who are willing to take risks on screen.
The story here involves a woman who seems to have her life together. She has a good job and is looking at a promotion, she has a good boyfriend and they're relationship is growing and she knows who she is. While at a party with a friend, she wanders off outside and stumbles onto some rubble in the yard. She is injured, but doesn't know to what extent until she realizes she's bleeding all over the house. She quickly heads off to a restroom and finds out she's suffered a rather serious gash to her calf muscles. She hides it and goes to the ER after the party. The doctor finds it odd that she wouldn't have noticed it sooner and that it only hurt several hours after the fact. He fixes her up and she's on her way. Over the next several days something strange starts to happen.... she begins to fixate on the wound. This fascination grows and grows until soon she's cutting herself in other places and re-opening the original wound. Things get worse and soon she's suckling her own blood and eventually eating her own flesh. Each time she does these things to herself, she is almost in a stupor. It's like she's sleeping and doesn't realize what she's done until afterwards. Everything in her life begins to crumble. Until a horrific climax and the semi-unsatisfying ending.
I feel like I've already said about as much as I can about this film. I recommend you check out the trailer below, but it's in English. They avoided any speaking parts from the film and just overdubbed the background voice in English. The film is available to rent from Netflix, but I'm not sure how available it is elsewhere. If you like to take risks with your film going experiences, then I would recommend this film without hesitation. If you like your films safe, easy to comprehend and without those 'icky' moments.... this is NOT the film for you. This is what Andrew Zimmern would call, "The deep end of the pool." I look forward to whatever Marina de Van has to share with us in the future. I think she has the potential to push the barriers of our fears and to delve in the mind in a unique way.
A 4 out of 5 star attempt from our friend across the pond. A frightening journey to take, but one that's worth the effort. I can only wonder if there is anyone out there in the world who's ever ended up in the position she ended up in within the film. What a dark place to live. Afraid of being alone with yourself, unsure of what you're capable of and unsure how far things will go before you either injure yourself beyond repair or injure someone else. My only suggestion to you before watching this is to make sure you're not eating anything that falls into the 'rare' category. Stick with things that are well-done.
If you like this, watch other psychological based horror: 'Spiral', 'The Silence of the Lambs' and 'High Tension aka Haute Tension'