Out of all the films I’ve seen in 2019, actually out of all the films I’ve seen in my life… I’ve never seen anything quite like Knives and Skin. I had been aching to see this one ever since it hit the festival circuit and nothing could have prepared me for this wild ride.
This unique film was written and directed by Jennifer Reeder (Signature Move, Crystal Lake). It stars Marika Engelhardt (House of Purgatory, Come As You Are), Audrey Francis (Empire, Signature Move), and Tim Hopper (Vanilla Sky).
Synopsis for Knives and Skin
What happened to Carolyn Harper? Part suburban nightmare, part neon-soaked teenage fever dream, this tantalizing mystery traces the wave of fear and distrust that spreads across a small Midwestern town in the wake of a high school girl’s mysterious disappearance. As the loneliness and darkness lurking beneath the veneer of everyday life gradually comes to light, a collective awakening seems to overcome the town’s teenage girls—gathering in force until it can no longer be contained.
Knives and Skin is exceptionally weird and oddly familiar and has officially become one of my new favorite coming-of-age films. Much like Stand by Me and Edge of Seventeen, Knives and Skin delivers a story that portrays the awkwardness and uncertainty of growing up. However, this film takes a step further with several different storylines, each character going through their own turmoil, and just trying to survive one day at a time. The feeling of hopelessness resonates throughout the film, but in the end, there’s a sense of relief when they realize they’re not alone, they’re all lost, and will get through this thing called life… together.
All of the characters and performances are unique and phenomenal. The younger actors/characters blew me away with their ability to juggle everything thrown at them. Death, love, family troubles, sexual orientation, and so on. They embraced their freak flag proudly. This film portrays the importance of representation and depicts all walks of life beautifully.
Along with the younger actors, I have to give around of applause to the three leading mothers in Knives and Skin. Kate Arrington, Marika Engelhardt, and Audrey Francis deliver emotionally powered performances driven with anxiety, depression, pain, and grief. Much like their kids, they’re all lost and confused and just trying to survive. Trying to make sense out of life and the feelings they’re going through. I’ve never seen someone portray grief as reckless and painful as Marika Engelhardt’s character. She completely loses it when her daughter goes missing and it’s heartbreakingly painful to see her character deteriorate throughout the runtime of the film.
The soundtrack to Knives and Skin is one of the best things about the film. I loved all of the different renditions of popular songs like “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.” They somehow fit perfectly with the tone of the film and made it extra special.
Beyond all of this, there’s a sense of mystery and magic to this film that I can’t quite describe. It’s something you have to see it, to experience all of what this film has to offer. Jennifee Reeder is a phenomenal director and I can’t wait to see what she does next. IFC Midnight will release Knives and Skin in theaters and available on VOD and Digital HD on December 6, 2019.