Skin Deep (2003)Reviewed By Collin Souter
Posted 10/12/03 15:46:24
(SCREENED AT THE 2003 CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL) This review goes to all the men out there who have significant others. Guys, I’m here to pass down to you a vital piece of advice that could save your soul from eternal damnation, so LISTEN UP! With a heavy heart, I feel I must warn you…cheating is bad. No, really, I’ve seen it. Cheating on your significant other is bad. For real. Since seeing the movie “Skin Deep” (and I don’t mean the John Ritter comedy), I have come to the conclusion that it is best not to have sex with a neighbor. Granted, I live next door to the Bumpusses and their smelly hound dogs, so I wouldn’t consider it anyway, but after what I saw in “Skin Deep,” my conscience tells me to spread its gospel across the land. Don’t cheat. Here’s why:Okay, say you’re an African-American named Anthony (Mailon Rivera) living in the ‘burbs with a white wife named Victoria (Kristin Shaw) and you stray from the marriage to sleep with a woman of your race. She’s named Alex (Debra Wilson) and she might be a little mentally unstable and possessive (Remind you of another Alex? I thought so). She wants you to leave your wife NOW! But, of course, you feel hesitant and it may be time to sever ties with this desperate, lonely (albeit hot) woman. You break it off. Good for you.
So, you go home and you complain to your wife that you two never have sex anymore. She decides to indulge you, but only until the doorbell rings and it’s your African American best friend, Michael (Steve White) and his wife Sarah (A.J. Johnson). You have all decided to get together for lunch and hot tubbing. Michael has severe money problems and he does not want to tell his wife about it. You jokingly suggest murdering his wife in order to collect some cash to pay it off. He almost takes you seriously. Meanwhile, your best friend’s wife, Sarah, hits on your wife in the other room.
Later, after many labored and overacted discussions on race relations in America and after Sarah gives Michael head in the hot tub WHILE YOU WATCH uncomfortably, you decide to go inside with your wife for a talk. Michael joins you leaving Sarah in the hot tub by herself. You all come back and find Sarah DEAD! She floats facedown in the tub. You wonder… Could my wife have murdered her? Could Michael have murdered her? Oh, no, you think. It was Alex! Maybe. Maybe not. You investigate.
Alex could have her motives for murdering this stranger, but you remember that Michael seriously considered murdering his wife just a few minutes ago. Still, Alex uses the murder as blackmail against you. If you don’t tell your wife that you want a divorce, Alex will tell the cops everything! And you have to do it while Alex watches from afar. She wants to see the look on your wife’s face when you tell her the bad news.
For the most part, you spend the afternoon doing the usual “What are we gonna tell the cops?” schpiel. Your best friend, meanwhile, realizes that because it was his wife, because he has debts and because he is black and sees conspiracy against his race in every aspect of society, he feels he will go to jail no matter what. So he grabs a shotgun and threatens you and your wife. You talk him down. Your wife does something vaguely drastic and Michael freaks out and shoots her. Now, you have two dead bodies to worry about.
Oh, wait, three! I almost forgot. See, Michael went over to Alex’s to try and talk sense into her. A struggle ensued and Michael hit Alex across the mouth, thereby killing her. Really. Apparently, her skeletal structure is made of toothpicks and her heart is on loan from Radio Shack. So, she’s corpse # 3. Or is she? You and your friend hatch a lame burning-car-off-a-cliff scenario to cover this mess, but suddenly Alex’s dead body has gone missing! Ooooooooooo, the twists!
Okay, so the body count slowly rises over the course of the day and you slowly begin to realize that you have been better off summoning the vomiting cobra on your own instead of obtaining the assistance from an outside source. In other words, YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE CHEATED! Don’t be a playuh, play! That’s the moral of the story behind “Skin Deep,” a film by Sacha Parisot, who clearly borrows a page or two from “Very Bad Things,” “Blood Simple” and “Rope.” Too bad she couldn’t borrow the same acting coach for her cast, all of whom deliver alternately wooden and over-the-top performances.Not that the script could demand anything more, mind you. This ridiculous movie does remain compulsively watchable in a so-bad-it’s-good sort of way. You will want to see how it all pans out in the end, even though you don’t buy a word of it. But when all is said and done, “Skin Deep” tries way too hard to be a serious and shocking morality play about race relations and the consequences of cheating. The equation goes like this: If you cheat, everyone around you will be shot at, strangled or slapped really, really hard and you will end up alone and in jail. So, guys, don’t cheat. Very Dumb Things could happen.
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