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„… Isserley, a female driver who scouts the Scottish Highlands for male hitchhikers with big muscles. She herself is tiny-like a kid peering up over the steering wheel. Scarred and awkward, yet strangely erotic and threatening,  Isserley listens to her passengers as they open up to her, revealing clues about who might miss them should they disappear-and then she strikes. What happens to her victims next is only part of a terrifying reality …“


Under the skin is mostly told with images. You don`t get much of the story just by listening to the soundtrack. Quite the opposite with Locke – where you would get the complete story just by listening to the one-sided dialogues he has on his phone.

What do these two films have in common? They are centered around a person driving a car. In Locke it is a man. In Under the skin a woman. Or more precise: an alien in the guise of a woman. Locke is driving all the movie, except for a short stop towards the end. Isserley is continuing her voyage as she leaves the car and walks, runs, takes a bus, goes deeper into the forrest until she …
Female Voice: [with a mechanical buzz over shadowy morphing orbs] T- D, S- Z- Th, B- T- V, H- T- D- K- G, S- Z- P- B, Ba-Ba- T- T, K- Kuh- Ch, Th- V- Th, Zzz- Sss- Bzz- Ch, B-B-Buh- V-V-Vuh, G-G-Guh D-D-Duh.

Female Voice: [now over a shiney white torus, slowly morphing] B-B-Buh- B-B-Buh, B-B-Beh, B-B-Beh, Bah, N-N-Nuh- N-N-Nuh, N-N-Nuh- No. N-N-Nuh, F- Feel- Field, Fill- Filled- Filts, Foil- Failed- Fell, Felds- Pill- Pills, Pall- Nall.

Female Voice:  [now over a watery chestnut-brown eye] Foal- Foals, Fold- Fold, Pool- Pool, Sell- Se…


Fascinated by the film I decided to pick up the audio-book of Under my skin – and listen as I  listen to books, every sequence three times.

That makes a book of 9 hours turn into a book of 27 hours. As I listen to each chapter three times before moving on, letting details sink in, getting to know the storytelling style of the author. Not only what he is telling, but also how he is telling it.

And I am not only listening to the story, but also to my listening itself. How it changes as I hears the chapter for the first time, the second time and third time.

To listen to how I listen as much as what I listen to sharpens my senses, sharpens my ears, sharpens the images, makes them clearer in my minds eye, makes me go behind the words.

It takes more time, but i am not in a hurry.


Female: You’re not from here? Where are you from?

Camper: I’m from Czech Republic.

Female: Why are you in Scotland?

Camper: I just … wanted to get away from it all.

Female: Yeah? Why here?

Camper: Because it’s … It’s nowhere.


The book lets me inside Isserley and her thoughts. Gradually I get to know her backstory and the people surrounding her, elements which were left out of the film. Just seeing the film is like only getting the skin of the story. To listen the book is to go under the skin.

This is one of the films where I think you might as well see it first – because the book will reveal so much anyway that is unfilmable.

„Isserley always drove straight past a hitch-hiker when she first saw him, to give herself time to size him up. She was looking for big muscles: a hunk on legs. Puny, scrawny specimens were no use to her.“

I have been hitchhiking in Scotland – and I have been picked up by women in cars. And occasionally when I look back I see myself as one of the hitchhikers being picked up. Not having told anyone back home my plans, not having anyone waiting for me – would have made me a suitable victim. The only hope I could have had was that she found me to skinny to be worth the hassle.

„In the end, though, vodsels couldn’t do any of the things that really defined a human being. They couldn’t siuwil, they couldn’t mesnishtil, they had no concept of slan.“

Bon appétit.


Interview with Jonatan Glazer

Interview with Michel Faber

Essay about „Under the skin“

Audiobook „Under the skin“ 


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