“Under the Skin” Discussion Questions

Write a paragraph or two responding to each of the following prompts:

What is the significance of the title “Under the Skin”? As you explore you answers this question, be sure to consider the various literal and subjective implications of the phrase.

One of the goals of both science fiction and horror is to allow us to perceive familiar things in strange new ways while also recognizing familiar elements in the otherworldly and the strange. Consider this film as an art object designed to “alienate” the viewer from the mundane world. How do the cinematography, sound track, special effects, and other physical aspects of the film making combine to contribute to this project?

Considering the indeterminacy of the alien’s gender and/or sexuality, what is the significance of its assuming the human guise of a beautiful young woman? Clearly, this appearance allows for the pattern of sexually enticing victims into the alien’s lair (in terms of the implied “black widow” narrative), but what other philosophical and psychological implications arise from the alien’s embodiment as an independent young woman?

What finally is this film trying to convey? The protagonist of this film is an unnamed space alien, but what is this film saying about humanity? How does experiencing the world, both its natural settings and its more populated areas, through the eyes of an extraterrestrial stranger allow us to see human life in a different way?

Published by Chuck Caruso

writer of dark fiction (crime, horror & western noir), literary & textual scholar (american gothic, noir, po-co, sf), and cultural critic

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