Reviewing In Her Skin for DVDsnapshot turned out to be a nice surprise. Simone North knocks the ball out of the park with a first film that, yeah, wobbles in a few places, but on the whole is a triumph!
A desire for a new life turns a jealous obsession into a disturbing game of identity theft in this terrifying psychological thriller based on a true story. Homely loner Caroline (Ruth Bradley) longs to escape her tormented adolescence and finds a way by living vicariously through popular girl Rachel (Kate Bell), who seemingly has it all. But Caroline's longing to be someone else soon transforms her hope of breaking free of her own life into a twisted need to replace it with Rachel's. Sam Neill, Guy Pearce, and Miranda Otto all give flawless performances as the parents of the tow girls whose lives threaten to intertwine in a deadly way.
Just because a film is inspired by true events does not mean you need to spoil the plot in your one sentence description on its page.
In lesser hands, this story of a young girl's murder and it's affect on her family and her killer could have been a ploddingly obvious Lifetime movie of the week told from the mother's point of view. Instead, In Her Skin is a stunning first feature from Australian television producer Simone North. With a stunning aesthetic, fine photography and a well-done score, this is the kind of deluxe production you're surprised to find flying under the theatrical radar. If anything, the viewpoint here is confident enough to be almost distracting in places, and the artistic touches don't always mesh with a story based on an actual murder.
Told in three segments and set in 1999, the story follows events from the point of view of Rachel's parents, then her killer, and then finally her own. Mike and Elizabeth Barber are the parents as played by Guy Pearce and Miranda Otto. The immediate kick-off into melodrama should be heavy handed, but these actors, especially Otto, tear into the material fiercely and finely. They engage the audience from the very beginning without carrying things over the top.