Mysterious Skin


D: Gregg Araki

Fortissimo/Antidote/Desperate (Gregg Araki)

USA/Netherlands 2004 [released 2005]

105 mins


W: Gregg Araki [based on the novel by Scott Heim]

DP: Steve Gainer

Ed: Gregg Araki

Mus: Harold Budd & Robin Guthrie

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Neil McCormick), Brady Corbet (Brian Lackey), Michelle Trachtenberg (Wendy), Jeff Licon (Eric Preston), Mary Lynn Rajskub (Avalyn Friesen), Elisabeth Shue (Ellen McCormick), Bill Sage (Coach)


Mysterious Skin is a scarring drama starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Brady Corbet as two teenagers dealing with a childhood trauma in very different ways.

Neil McCormick, the son of an irresponsible single mother, is a reckless gigolo, while Brian, also from a broken home, retreats into a fantasy that he was abducted by aliens as a child, accounting for the five hour ordeal he repressed in his memory.

Brian seeks the truth, whilst Neil is prostituting himself to other men, eventually moving to New York City where his sexual encounters become increasingly more threatening.  The two eventually reconcile, and share their memory that they were both sexually abused by their Little League baseball coach.

It's a brave film which tackles an incredibly controversial and serious subject and a lot of credit has to go to Gregg Araki, who adapted the screenplay, produced, directed and edited the film, but also to the two principal actors, especially Joseph Gordon-Levitt, with a career making role.

The only criticisms are that there are a couple of subplots that filter off into nothing and the final act feels a little too contrived and inconsistent with the rest of the film, lacking that punch that many of the other scenes in the build up possess.

Still, it's a film that will stick with you, simply due to the way it handles its subject matter.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Mysterious Skin
Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Mysterious Skin