In Her Skin is a shockingly interesting story that will twist and bend the thoughts of every audience member.
15-year old Rachel Barber (Kate Bell) was the perfect girl. She had a loving family, a wonderful boyfriend who doubled as her best friend and an early career in dancing. Nothing could stop her from reaching success inside and out of her career. That is, nothing until Caroline Reid (Ruth Bradley) became involved.
In Her Skin is based on the true story of the disappearance and murder of Rachel Barber. When she doesn't come home from ballet one night, her parents (Guy Pearce and Miranda Otto) begin calling an extensive search for their daughter. Authorities state it is simply too soon to file for a report, seeing as she has only been missing for a day. Unfortunately, it was already too late. When diving head first into the search, Mr. and Mrs. Barber find themselves in front of the Reids. Mr. Reid (Sam Neill) claims to have not heard from Rachel since Caroline babysat her a number of years prior. Caroline, however, has seen her much more recently.
In Her Skin is one hell of a twisted experience. The most interesting factor of it being that we don't really know who we, as the audience, are rooting for. Narrated by Caroline, she describes everything that happens from the days of babysitting to the night of the kidnapping. Yes, Rachel is the victim and is seen as the hero, but the emotions and explanations from Caroline almost make you sympathize for her and almost justify her actions. That in itself is a dark and twisted move from director Simone North. Caroline has an illness that has gone unnoticed by her entire family her whole life. With her mother feeling like she's trapped in a house with a psychopath and her father gone most days, Caroline is practically seen as a monster more than a part of the family. It's these cause-and-effect reactions that cause our anti-hero to do what will inevitably lead to her downfall.
The acting behind In Her Skin is one of the finer qualities of the film. Whether it's finding answers or insulting police officers, Miranda Otto finely walks the line of determined mother who won't quit until she finds where her daughter is. Guy Pearce, as always, gives a phenomenal performance. It's hard to find a repetitive quality of his acting, as he constantly switches films where he plays the victim and attacker. There's really not much he can't do. Sam Neill is a pleasant surprise. Seeing him take on a father who silently knows everything but does little about it is a lot more of a requirement in acting than he is used to. He handles it with ease. There's a dark nature to Neill and it would be a smart move for him to visit these kinds of roles a lot more frequently. But make no mistake, this is none of these characters movie.
Ruth Bradley steals the show as troubled and psychotic Caroline Reid. Making every lethal move seem like a way out of an emotionally abusive lifestyle is a genius play by Bradley. Of course, most criminals have motivations. Just none more clear than those of Caroline Reid. Unfortunately, when all is said and done, the emotional connection is lost and Caroline is seen as the murderous psychopath that everyone else sees her as. it's a move that had to be done, but hurts the connection that has lasted throughout the story.
In Her Skin is a dark, twisted story that only becomes more dark natured once it asks for sympathy for its villain. It's a move that can either make or break the tone of the film. For In Her Skin, it defines it as one of the better criminal movies in a long time.