Knives and Skin Director Interview

The missing girl. She’s the center of many an American narrative. Yet for Jennifer Reeder, this figure is merely the beginning of a narrative that fades into the background of her film Knives and Skin. The real drama and intrigue of her “genre adjacent” work, as she describes the film, comes from watching how the disappearance of Carolyn Harper spirals outwards and deepens the grief of a small town mired in the quiet misery of suburbia.

Knives and Skin had a long festival run in 2019 from Berlin to Tribeca, Fantasia Festival to Fantastic Fest, and now finally arrives in theaters and on VOD courtesy of IFC Midnight. On the eve of release, I caught up with Reeder to discuss her unique work. Our conversation covered everything from her stylish, colorful aesthetic to the deadpan acting style as well as the heaviness of the material she covers.

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Knives and Skin Review

If you filtered a classic character-driven film like The Last Picture Show through a giallo color palette and infused it with impending dread of a horror flick, you’d get something that looked a lot like Jennifer Reeder’s Knives and Skin. The writer-director begins her film with a missing girl, the inciting incident for any number of genres, and lets it spiral away outwards organically. It’s a thriller, a bit of noir, a lot of coming-of-age tale, always small-town domestic drama. To Reeder’s immense credit, her film glides forward with an aura of mystery but never feels like genre mix-and-match.

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Fewer trailers

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising?

This week we go two-tone, become a mercenary after serving our country, upset the wrong people in Mother Russia, hope for an accident to pay some bills, and get a little weird after a teen mysteriously disappears. Read More »