Lonely and depressed, Koffie searches for a connection and finds one when the tattoo on her shoulder comes to life. As unrealistic as it seems, the once terrified Koffie begins to form a bond with the tattoo and finds the happiness that she’s yearned for. Soon her newfound relationship turns deadly as that tattoo slowly takes control of Koffie.
While perusing discounted DVD titles, I came across the movie “Comforting Skin”; a title that seemed familiar but I wasn’t sure why. Then it hit me. It was a title that we had done a press release for back in 2011 (kind of a shock to realize it had been that long) but since we only posted a press release and never reviewed it, I had forgotten about the movie. Of course realizing this, I was curious about the movie since it felt like it had disappeared into obscurity and I wanted to see how the actual movie had turned out.
Koffie use to be the party-girl; now she’s trying to find the life that she truly wanted but hid from it with drugs and alcohol. She wants to find someone she can have an intimate connection with but she finds herself still surrounded by the people from her former life, and ultimately, finds herself alone. Something changes though when the tattoo she got on a whim begins to become self-aware. Terrifying at first, yet Koffie begins to form an emotional bond with her sentient tattoo and it fills the void that’s been missing from her life. Her idealistic relationship turns deadly as her tattoo becomes possessive and starts taking control of Koffie, both emotionally and physically.
Overall, I ended up enjoying “Comforting Skin” quite a bit and was even kind of surprised by it, but not for the reason I was expecting. The idea of a sentient tattoo taking over a person sounded very promising (albiet silly) yet it seemed like the least interesting aspect of the movie. “Comforting Skin” works well because of the performance by Victoria Bidewell as Koffie — the woman becoming obsessed over her tattoo. She gives a fearless performance and when you take into consideration that a majority of her scenes are merely Victoria interacting with herself, it’s quite impressive to watch. At the very least, it is what kept my interest in the movie.
And that’s not to say that the movie’s story isn’t without merits but it felt like it was missing something. A hook, perhaps. One of the aspects I think is because the concept of the story felt like it lent itself more to a psychological aspect. Granted, there is some of that since you are watching the mental breakdown of the main character. But I can’t help but feel the story would have been more engaging had the relationship between Koffie and her tattoo would have been psychologically based — is her tattoo truly self-aware or is Koffie so desperate to find a connection that she believes it is?
That might have been too clichéd to be any good since that is a story we’ve seen before. However, the story that deals in the sentient tattoo aspect felt rather limp. It’s this element that’s just there. What keeps the movie going is Victoria’s portrayal of Koffie. A mentally broken woman who wants to find a connection with somebody — or something — and when she finally finds it, you watch as it consumes her and breaks her down even further. You become invested in Koffie because she is such a tragic character that you’re almost compelled to watch her as she spirals further into darkness and despair. Ultimately causing the movie to become less about a woman being controlled by her tattoo but about her mental deterioration.
“Comforting Skin” is a character piece and Victoria Bidewell really helps bring that out and is what keeps the viewer invested in the movie. That’s not to sell the writing and directing of Derek Franson short, as the movie looks great and writing is solid for the most part. It’s just unfortunate that the core concept about a woman becoming possessed by her sentient tattoo isn’t as interesting as the idea lends itself to be. However, having said that, there is still some great writing on display since the movie becomes more about a woman who becomes lost to her desires due to her obsessions.