The Hughes family have recently lost their six year old daughter in a tragic accident, and we join Mark Hughes (Joshua Close), his wife Mary (Selma Blair) along with their remaining child Brendon (Quinn Lord) on a picturesque drive to an isolated getaway. From the washed out palette of the film we get the overwhelming feeling that these characters are in a bad place. Indeed it only takes a glimpse at Mary’s emotionally drained face pressed against the passenger door window to have this confirmed.
The vacation time is intended as a period to get their marriage back on track, and also as an opportunity to deal with their grief. All these good intentions however are swiftly interrupted the morning after their arrival when Bobby Sakowsky (James D’Arcy), wife Jane (Rachel Miner) and son Jared (Alex Ferris) turn up unexpectedly and uninvited. They explain they have a place on the river, and whilst walking by had noticed the Hughes’ arrival and decided to do the neighbourly thing and drop off some wood.
The Sarkowsky’s seem nice to the point of irritating, but despite the rude awakening Mark is gracious enough to agree to a get together later that day. As this suspicious family arrive at the Hughes household that evening everyone seems to get on, albeit with a pervading sense of tension between the two couples. The soiree continues and the families become more familiar, although whilst the Sarkowsky’s are happy to grill the Hughes’ about their lives, they are less than forthcoming about themselves. The tipping point to conflict begins following an incident with the two boys leaving Brendon injured. Mark takes this opportunity to ask the Sarkowsky family to leave which they oblige, but something remains outside the house, and it’s making the Hughes family feel very uneasy.
In Their Skin is a home invasion flick, it won’t ruin the surprise to tell you that. Compared to its peers I feel it comfortably hits the heights of The Strangers, and comes within touching distance of Funny Games. It retains its own identity though, simply due to its patient approach and the way the Sarkowsky family have such a noted period of friendly interaction with the Hughes’. Add to the mix a strong socio-economic undertone and you have a very effective, claustrophobic horror / thriller.