PERFECT SKIN *** UK 2018 Dir: Kevin Chicken. 110 mins
Perfect Skin is your average love story. Boy meets girl. Boy kidnaps girl. Boy “transforms” girl by covering her unmarked skin in tattoos and piercings. Richard Brake plays Bob Reid, the tattoo artist that Katia (Natalia Kostrzewa) visits while staying with her friend Lucy (Jo Woodcock). When Lucy has to rush home for a family emergency, she leaves Katia with an envelope of money and instructions to pay her rent while she’s away. Jobless and with no close family ties, Katia is the perfect victim for Bob who is intent on finding a human canvas for his ultimate tattoo designs. Locked up in his basement, she must find a way to cope with the constant torture that she endures as Reid repeatedly drugs her to work on her metamorphosis.
Wonderfully acted and with an eerily calming tone until the intense, gory third act, Perfect Skin utilizes its gimmick well with intricate, repetitive close-up shots of the colorful inks, thick needles piercing through pinched skin, and the broad application of carefully chosen designs. Tattoos tend to be a polarizing art form, but one thing that is clear is that the tattoo artist should have the customer’s full consent before putting needle to skin. Bob’s actions act as, and are regarded by Katia, as a form of rape, and it’s not until she plays into his philosophy that she is able to get the upper hand on her captor. A similarly calm and creepy score helps to compliment these striking images. However, the story lacks any clear characterization, motivations, or back story for its two leads. It also tends to get literally too dark to the point where it’s hard to see what’s happening on screen. Tonally, though, it hits all the right beats, and if abduction and bodily torture are at the top of your list of things that scare you, this film is sure to give you a few nightmares.
Review by Laura Smith