Mysterious Skin (2005) - Rotten Tomatoes

Mysterious Skin (2005)



Critic Consensus: Bold performances and sensitive, spot-on direction make watching this difficult tale of trauma and abuse a thought-provoking, resonant experience.

Movie Info

"The summer I was eight years old, five hours disappeared from my life. Five hours, lost, gone without a trace..." These are the words of Brian Lackey, a troubled 18-year-old, growing up in the stiflingly small town of Hutchinson, KS. Plagued by nightmares, Brian believes that he may have been the victim of an alien abduction. Local Neil McCormick however, is the ultimate beautiful outsider. With a loving but promiscuous mother, Neil is wise beyond his years and curious about his developing sexuality, having found what he perceives to be love from his Little League baseball coach at a very early age. Now, 10 years later, Neil is a teenage hustler, nonchalant about the dangerous path his life is taking. Neil's pursuit of love leads him to New York City, while Brian's voyage of self discovery leads him to Neil -- who helps him to unlock the dark secrets of their past.more
Rating: NC-17
Genre: Art House & International, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Gregg Araki
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 25, 2005
Box Office: $0.5M
Tartan Films/TLA Releasing - Official Site


Elisabeth Shue
as Mrs. McCormick
Lisa Long
as Mrs. Lackey
Chris Mulkey
as Mr. Lackey
Chase Ellison
as Neil (age 8)
George Webster
as Brian (age 8)
Bill Sage
as Coach
Rachael Kraft
as Deborah (age 12)
Riley McGuire
as Wendy (age 11)
Ryan Stenzel
as Stephen Zepherelli
Larry Marko
as Old Man with Scar
Mary Lynn Rajskub
as Avalyn Friesen
Bruno Alexander
as Redneck Hick
Zane Huett
as Jackson's Son
Reedy Gibbs
as Receptionist
David Alan Graf
as Gay Lumberjack
John Ganun
as NYC John
Kelly Kruger
as Deborah
Pete Kasper
as Sedan Driver
Trieste Kelly Dunn
as Blood Prom Cast/Crew
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Mysterious Skin

Critic Reviews for Mysterious Skin

All Critics (116) | Top Critics (37)

Gone is the gloomy nihilism of The Doom Generation and The Living End, replaced by a melancholy, but hopeful, affection toward people with the capacity to overcome tremendous psychological trauma.

Full Review… | July 29, 2005
Miami Herald
Top Critic

Araki's best film in a long time.

Full Review… | July 22, 2005
Detroit Free Press
Top Critic

The audience has gotten the point roughly 90 minutes before the characters do.

Full Review… | July 21, 2005
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

Like most good films, this one demands something from you, not just you from it. Some may run for cover, or for the exit, but those who stick around this strange and rich film will be sent out floating.

Full Review… | May 11, 2016
Bangkok Post

[...] For a movie about something as painful as child sexual abuse, Mysterious Skin doesn't repel. There's an allure to the images, which are as carefully posed and framed as figures in a softly illuminated dollhouse.

Full Review… | March 17, 2014
The Dissolve

Contains a few flat notes of community participation, but Araki locates all the necessary surges of hopelessness and misguided desire, ending victorious in his quest to adapt Scott Heim's provocative novel.

Full Review… | March 7, 2014

Audience Reviews for Mysterious Skin

A college freshman who believes he was abducted by aliens searches for his old Little League teammate, now a male prostitute, thinking he holds the clue to the mysterious events of his childhood. Something like MIDNIGHT COWBOY with a bit of "The X Files" thrown in, this painful and graphic drama explores how similar traumas can produce opposite effects.

Greg S

Super Reviewer


Mysterious Skin has an interesting idea for its plot, and frankly is a pretty disturbing film. The film has an engaging story and a good cast. At the center of the film is Joseph Gordon Levitt in the role of Neil McCormick, who is a homosexual hustler and has had a dark childhood by being sexually assaulted by his pedophile baseball coach. Mysterious Skin then follows Neil on his quest to finding what actually happened those many years ago, as many of those events were a blur. The film is terrific, but as I've said it's also fairly disturbing. The cast do a fine job here and the story has enough momentum to keep you entertained, eve3n though it's fairly slow, the story is always engaging and dramatic. Actor Joseph Gordon Levitt is excellent in the role of Neil, and he really brings out one of his best performances. I felt that Levitt added a certain a certain cocky innocence to character. Mysterious Skin is a well crafted film by director Greg Araki, however because of its story; it won't appeal to many viewers. This is really the type of film that can divide an audience. Despite the subject matter, Mysterious Skin is a solid film with minimal flaws. The great cast and directing keep this film afloat and everyone involved really make this a good film. Mysterious Skin is a terrific drama film that you shouldn't pass up on, love it or hate it, this is a powerful film.

Alex roy

Super Reviewer

Honestly speaking, I did not expected what I have seen in this movie. I did not read the story line because I like surprise. I just look at the genre and that's it. But for this, I looked at the rating and saw this. It does happens in real life, yeah sad but true. But this is not my taste. It's very disturbing.

Dead Angel

Super Reviewer

Mysterious Skin Quotes

Mrs. McCormick: You'll always be my baby.
– Submitted by Lillian H (3 years ago)
Neil McCormick: And as we sat there listening to the carolers, I wanted to tell Brian it was over now and everything would be okay. But that was a lie, plus, I couldn't speak anyway. I wish there was some way for us to go back and undo the past. But there wasn't. There was nothing we could do. So I just stayed silent and trying to telepathically communicate how sorry I was about what had happened. And I thought of all the grief and sadness and fucked up suffering in the world, and it made me want to escape. I wished with all my heart that we could just leave this world behind. Rise like two angels in the night and magically... disappear.
– Submitted by Nikoleta P (3 years ago)
Wendy Peterson: I see the way you look at him.
Eric Preston: He's so beautiful. I can't help it. He's like a god.
Wendy Peterson: You don't have to tell me, I was infatuated with him too once. But I know all Neil's secrets and there's shit don't even want to know about. Trust me. Once I'm gone, you'll be all Neil has...and you have to understand one thing. Where normal people have a heart, Neil McCormick's has a bottomless black hole. And if you don't watch out, you can fall in and get lost forever.
– Submitted by viktor g (4 years ago)
Neil McCormick: I hate it when they look like Tarzan and sound like Jane.
– Submitted by Sara H (4 years ago)

Discussion Forum

Discuss Mysterious Skin on our Movie forum!