DVD Review: Comforting Skin

Published on May 21st, 2013 in: Current Faves, DVD, DVD/Blu-Ray Reviews, Horror, Movie Reviews, Movies, Reviews |

By Less Lee Moore


Sometimes the best horror films aren’t the ones that deal in the supernatural or killers who won’t die. Treading the line between reality and insanity can frequently be horrifying enough. Comforting Skin is that rare, unclassifiable movie that blurs the lines between genres and defies categorization.

Ostensibly, Comforting Skin is about a young woman named Koffie (Victoria Bidewell) who gets a tattoo on her shoulder blade and is thrilled with the results, until it starts talking to her. Yet, the film is about so much more.

As Koffie, Bidewell is astonishing. The word “brave” gets tossed around a lot in film reviews when describing an actor’s performance, but here it is completely apt. She is both physically and emotionally naked throughout the film. The rest of the main cast—Tygh Runyan as Nathan, Jane Sowerby as Synthia—are also uncomfortably compelling.

Director Derek Franson also wrote the screenplay and it frequently feels almost improvisational. It’s achingly familiar to anyone who has been through destructive relationships, addiction, loneliness, and depression, with touches of genuine humor throughout that keep it grounded firmly in reality, especially the reality of those in their late twenties or early thirties who are lost souls.

These flawed, believable characters make Comforting Skin engrossing yet thoroughly unsettling. When Koffie confesses to Nathan that she’s in love with her tattoo, he laughs out loud but yet the scene isn’t humorous in the least. We’ve already become accustomed to her delusions and accepted them as reality.

Koffie’s relationship with her tattoo seems plausible, even when it registers as frightening. As the tattoo becomes like an abusive partner in a relationship, anyone who’s been a part of one can recognize the signs: possessive, controlling, manipulative, prone to emotional blackmail. Comforting Skin presents Koffie’s distorted reality so convincingly it becomes our own; we don’t even consider the possibility that she might be mentally ill until someone actually suggests it out loud

If the tattoo is a voice in Koffie’s head, could it just be Koffie’s real negative opinions of herself made manifest? Since self-destructive behaviors can be as damaging as emotionally or physically abusive ones—and are frequently inextricably tied together—it poses an intriguing question to the viewer.

Alain Mayrand’s outstanding score is exquisite and painful, particularly in the extended sequences between Koffie and Synthia in the film’s third act. The visual effects are also excellent; they are believable yet subtle.

There is much ambiguity in the beginning of Comforting Skin. We want to now more about these characters and the vague references to past events draw us in. The exposition is delicately crafted; not everything is revealed, but enough to keep us watching and wondering.

As the events in Comforting Skin reach their disturbing climax, there is genuine suspense. You can’t predict how the movie will end. While the ending isn’t a twist by any means, it’s surprising enough to cast even more ambiguity on what you’ve just witnessed.

Comforting Skin is a dark, disquieting film that lingers, raising more questions than it answers. It’s an accomplished and impressive debut from Derek Franson and deserves the attention of horror fans as well as those looking for new talent in indie cinema.

Comforting Skin is available on DVD today from Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada and Raven Banner Entertainment.

4 Responses to “DVD Review: Comforting Skin

  1. Justin James:
    May 21st, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Thanks for the great review! We appreciated the exposure and support.

  2. Popshifter:
    May 21st, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    You’re most welcome.


  3. Ash:
    February 8th, 2016 at 11:50 am

    It wasn’t what I expected or what I was in the mood for when I watched it on Netflix… I’ve lost friends to addiction and subsequent insanity. It was a hard watch and disturbed the fuck out of me. Enough to make me look up reviews online. Good job, at some points near the end I almost turned it off.

  4. Popshifter:
    February 8th, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Thanks for commenting! Glad you enjoyed the review.


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