KNIVES AND SKIN (2019) Reviews and overview

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‘Carolyn is missing. Everyone else is lost.’
Knives and Skin is a 2019 American neo-noir film that follows a young girl’s disappearance in the rural Midwest and its effect on teens and parents.

Written and directed by Jennifer Reeder (Night’s End; V/H/S/94 ‘Holy Hell’ segment; Signature MoveAccidents at Home and How They Happen; lots of shorts)

The movie stars Marika Engelhardt, Grace Smith, Ireon Roach, Kayla Carter, Tim Hopper, Kate Arrington, Audrey Francis, James Vincent Meredith, Ty Olwin, Raven Whitley, Jalen Gilbert, Emma Ladji, Robert T. Cunningham, Tony Fitzpatrick, and Marilyn Dodds Frank.

“This is an interesting work, and its maker visibly has talent. Here’s the thing, though: Just as no one can do Airplane!-style comedy like the guys who made Airplane!, no one can do David Lynch like David Lynch. Knives and Skin tries just a little too hard to do David Lynch.” The Aisle Seat

“Reeder’s wonderful script weaves many overlapping: sad, complex and hopeless lives across multiple generations and elevates them all to a place of hope for the future. And then there’s the wilfully left-field choices, tried and tested in her short films, like the a cappella choir singing eighties pop songs. These mellifluous moments provide an obvious show of unity amongst our uncertain teen characters.” Britflicks

“Whereas teenage girls are generally represented in film – even affectionately – as a source of chaos, in this disjointed world their wisdom and wit come to the fore. Christopher Rejano’s imagery is saturated with feminine colour, layers of pink and purple and cherry red; this is a world of ballgowns, sequins and lace…” Eye for Film

“From the first, it’s lit up by little glowing touches of magic – a shining wound that then never stops bleeding – that no one remarks on, and there’s an air of the casually strange throughout, exemplified by directorial enthusiasms for odd things like a capella covers of ‘80s pop songs and inexplicable bits of art direction like the silver foil pillow one neurotic Mom lays her head-on.” The Kim Newman Web Site

“I know Knives and Skin is trying to have this quirkiness to it but I felt at times, it tries a little too hard with this. It is also doesn’t feel like we get to know the characters as well as I would have liked. Instead, we get a bit part story of many many people and not enough of a story from the interesting ones. And it’s a shame because, in parts, I absolutely loved it.” Nerdly

“I found the film engaging and entertaining throughout, but it borders on pastiche so much — and it never goes as full-out nuts as its chief influences, which makes things feel watered down or like “David Lynch lite”  — that its powerful messages, compelling young female characters, and unique eccentricities often wind up taking a backseat to its style and presentation.” The Scariest Things

Knives and Skin won’t be for everyone but those who do seek it out will be richly rewarded by a strange, moody, and astute study of the effects of grief on a community that sticks with you long after the credits roll. This isn’t an easy film to compartmentalize but such is its bizarre power. Like Carolyn Harper herself, its presence hangs in the air like perfume long after it’s gone.” Wicked Horror

Having been generally well-received on the festival circuit, IFC Films is releasing Knives and Skin theatrically at limited locations and on Video-on-Demand (VOD) in the USA on December 6th 2019.

Cast and characters:
Kate Arrington … Renee Darlington
Tim Hopper … Dan Kitzmiller
Marika Engelhardt … Lisa Harper
Tony Fitzpatrick … Principal Markum
James Vincent Meredith … Doug Darlington
Audrey Francis … Lynn Kitzmiller
Alex Moss … Aaron
Ty Olwin … Andy Kitzmiller
Robert T. Cunningham … Jesse Darlington
Marilyn Dodds Frank … Gramma Miriam Kitzmiller
Raven Whitley … Carolyn Harper
Kayla Carter … Laurel Darlington
Jalen Gilbert … Jason Kendrick
Jessica G. Smith … Joanna Kitzmiller (as Grace Smith)
Genevieve Venjohnson … Bridey Kurtich

Technical details:
111 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1


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