Don't you know who he is? (Images via TLA)
The Skin of the Teeth, the debut project by director-writer Matthew Wollin, is a low-budget, high-style conjuring of David Lynch that pulsates with a genuine air of the unexpected.
A rare film with a queer man of color as its lead, The Skin of the Teeth begins My Dinner with André-style, documenting an awkward second date (the first was apparently a nearly anonymous fuck) between appealingly naive everyman Josef (Pascal Arquimedes) and vaguely sinister host John (Donal Brophy), who is old enough to be his daddy.
The chemistry between the men is sizzling, even as their banter feels increasingly foreboding, and things ramp up when Josef pops a random pill he finds in John's bedroom.
After that, things go South quickly in this Metamorphosis with anal sex, leading to a long, never boring sequence in which Josef is interrogated by authorities for apparently murdering John, interacts with his public defender and eventually reveals a secret he's been hiding.
It's a bit like having a lucid dream, though lucidity is not something this film values — or needs.
The Skin of the Teeth is a complete trip — no overstating it — but I felt hypnotized as it took me from point A to point B, never understanding fully where it was going, and in the end, wondering exactly where it had been. It offers no easy answers as Wollin skillfully knocks your mental feet out from under you with every twist and turn.
On top of its originality, the film is exquisitely, yet simply, shot, giving it Hitchcock-level gravitas on what I understand was a minuscule budget.
Let this one unwind and expect the unexpected.
The Skin of the Teeth opened theatrically at the Cinema Village in NYC on May 10. Stream it now.