'Unskin': Elcid Asaei's compelling short film which seamlessly blends narrative cinema with contemporary dance

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

Some of the most interesting audiovisual experiments that are happening around the world are being channelized through the medium of short films. A very unique short film that recently caught my attention is Unskin, written and directed by British filmmaker Elcid Asaei at Crimson Black Productions. What makes the film unique is how it seamlessly blends the world of narrative cinema with contemporary dance. A thought-provoking and visually striking story set in an alternative London, Unskin has been described by Elcid as “’A Christmas Carol’ meets ‘The Dark Knight’ in the ‘Twilight Zone’”.  

Unskin revolves around a disenfranchised man named Roger Piper. Piper is a quiet yet rebellious agent of positive change in the dysfunctional setting. He unleashes an alien-like alter-ego named ‘UNSKIN’ who stalks the landscape and abducts alienated and morally corrupt mortals, leading them through a metamorphosis that sheds their artificial masks and transcends them from division to unity.
A still from Elcid Asaei's Unskin, Mysterious Masked figure
A still from Elcid Asaei's Unskin
In order to create the unique dance premise of this film, Elcid collaborated with independent choreographer Konstantina Skalionta, who trained at the Central School of Ballet and London Contemporary Dance School. In the words of Konstantina: “My specialisation in performances based on the human condition and the parallels I recognized in the screenplay for UNSKIN drew me strongly to the project”.

Unskin has a diverse cast and crew of emerging British, European and Global filmmaking talent. In the words of Elcid: “The story has a spiritual element at its heart, yet was also inspired by contemporary debates around environmental, social, race, and gender identity in increasingly divisive times. The key aim for the project was to create an eloquent and entertaining film that explored and made sense of these issues.”
Unskin A Still from Unskin, Directed by Elcid Asaei
A Still from Unskin
This timely thriller, with its interesting setting, defies expectations and ambition for a short film and offers audiences a mysterious and surreal story that is visually bold, entertaining, and original. Apart from its cinematic brilliance, the short film also succeeds in exposing the dark side of humanity, reminding us that the negative thoughts and emotions are the root cause of all our troubles. Also, to be able to achieve so much in just 15 minutes is nothing short of remarkable.

Unskin is a powerful reminder of the enormous creative potential of the short film format. Let's not forget that it is always a big challenge to be able to propagate your idea within the limited scope of a short film. And yet at the same time it allows the storytellers to leverage upon the power of cinema to economically tell meaningful tales reflecting upon the humanity at large. Unskin is one such tale that succeeds in effectively telling its thought provoking story without ever appearing forced. Highly recommended!

For more information on UNSKIN, and to watch the eye-catching teaser, visit the film’s website and IMDB page. For social media, visit the Facebook fan page and Instagram feed.  

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated!  

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