The glut of home invasion films gets a welcome boost with In Their Skin, a story that shoves viewers out of their comfort zone right from the start.
The film, out March 12 on DVD, offers a treatise on manners, patience and our willingness to push aside common sense for as long as feasible. Once the violence erupts, and it always does in this genre, the thoughtful story gives way to raw emotion. It's never dull, but it sure is maddening.
Mark and Mary (Joshua Close and Selma Blair) retreat to a family-owned property for some emotional R&R. The couple recently lost their daughter in an accident, and the getaway is meant for them to heal and concentrate on caring for their son, Brendon (Quinn Lord).
The arrival of nosy neighbor Bob (James D'Arcy) and his wife and son feels like an unnecessary distraction, but Mark and Mary are too numb to excuse their way out of a dinner meeting.
The meal goes badly. Bob and his wife (Rachel Miner) pepper their neighbors with personal questions. Social cues miss their mark by miles. That's only the start of the trouble, as we learn why Bob wanted to make friends with the haunted couple so badly.
In Their Skin rotates on an axis of envy and anger, and Close's pinched features are ideal to capture Mark's willingness to do whatever it takes to hold his family together. D'Arcy is a fine counterpoint, showboating his own needs and bluster.
The carefully structured set-up eventually gives way to dumb character choices, unexplained relationships and an inauthentic detour into sexual humiliation. These elements can be masterfully brought together with surgical care, but In Their Skin uses a cudgel to hammer them home.
Fine performances and a jittery tone make In Their Skin worth a look, but the rote finale won't allow it to linger beyond the primal emotions being stoked.
The DVD arrives with no extras despite the meaty nature of the story in play.