Fantasia 2019: Our Review of ‘Knives and Skin’

Posted in Fantasia 2019, Festival Coverage, Movies by - July 20, 2019
Fantasia 2019: Our Review of ‘Knives and Skin’

I joked on twitter that Jennifer Reeder’s Knives and Skin was akin to a really convincing episode of Riverdale that’s a tribute to David Lynch, but the more I think about it, the more apt it seems. As backhand as the statement above may seem, I mean it from the best of intended places. From the aforementioned sentiment alone, however, you’ll likely be able to discern how much Reeder’s film matches your own palette.

Knives and Skin is a difficult film to describe, because so much of the film seems deliberately alienating. Plot wise, Reeder’s film tells the story of a young girl (Raven Whitley) who disappears after being abandoned by her boyfriend (Ty Olwin). Her town grieves for her, but the inner relationships of everyone will be tested by these ghastly events. Much of the dramaturgy, however, feels pointedly campy and aggressively deconstructs aspects of genre cinema, including the gaze and especially concerning the motivations of male characters.

What kept me engaged with Reeder’s film is ultimately its difficult colour palette, clearly inspired by some of the more madcap works of Giallo filmmakers such as Dario Argento. The film is awash in bright hues and mood lighting. It is otherwise difficult to get a read on Knives and Skin. Someone once told me that David Lynch’s filmography is filled with works that grapple with difficult concepts, and yet ask to be appreciated on a surface level for their ability to deconstruct and consider narrative tropes. I get a similar sensation watching Knives and Skin. There may ultimately be important questions posed regarding society’s treatment of women, but I’m clearly not aware enough to grasp them, and am instead focused on obvious Isabella Rossellini homages and bright colours.

This post was written by
Thomas Wishloff is currently an MA student at York University. He is new to the Toronto Film Scene, but has periodically written and podcasted for several now defunct ventures, and has probably commented on a forum with you at some point. The ex-Edmontonian has been known to enjoy a good board game, and claims to know the secret to the best popcorn in the world.
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