Mysterious Skin

Director: Gregg Araki
Screenwriters: Gregg Araki, Scott Heim

Institute History


It takes two artists working at the height of their respective crafts to create the many daring and moving layers that make up Mysterious Skin. The first is author Scott Heim, who wrote the acclaimed novel, and the second, Sundance veteran Gregg Araki, his cinematic devotee, who takes his passionate direction into such exciting new ground that it almost feels like a rediscovery.

It's not that Araki's usual touches for style, musical moods, savage humor, and photographic grace are missing…far from it. Using an imaginative array of tools and a fearless cast (too synchronized in skill to single out), Araki takes unthinkable cruelties and exposes how terrifyingly ordinary they can really be. The secret denials of the American middle class and the perfect recreation of a vintage red-state political world only add to the shock and awe.

The wrenching childhood mystery of two individually desperate teens—one who believes he was abducted by aliens, the other a working hustler—who become reconnected by sexual abuses they shared as boys, Mysterious Skin draws us in even as it disturbs us. In the end, the film's greatest accomplishment may be the creation of a fragile echo of resonance, expanding our souls and connecting us all in the search for sensual peace and worldly love with who we truly are.

— Joseph Beyer

Screening Details

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