Skin Deep (2003) from Tuna

Skin Deep is an ultra low budget ($400K) thriller which focuses on the racial dynamics in a mixed marriage. Basically, someone dies in a hot tub, and three of the four remaining characters are credible suspects.

Spoilers Ahead

As the film opens, a black couple is having sex. In the post-coital talk, she pushes him to leave his wife and marry her, but instead he breaks up with her, gets on his motorcycle, and returns home. Anthony finds his wife in the bathtub, and to our surprise she is white. He wants sex, she doesn't, and their discussion indicates that this conflict has lately been recurring frequently. Meanwhile, they are preparing for his friends to come over for lunch. While Anthony is mild mannered and fits easily in a white neighborhood, his friend Michael is militant, and engages in a running battle with Anthony's white wife.

Michael has lost a lot of money in a bad .com investment, and hasn't told his wife. Anthony jokingly suggest he kill her as the perfect solution, since he wouldn't have to tell her then, and he would collect the insurance money. Next thing you know, Michael's wife is actually dead in the hot tub. Michael is afraid to call the police, especially because the person living in the guest house may have overheard them joking about killing her. So who is in the guest house? The girlfriend from the first scene!

Anthony discovers that the girlfriend not only knows everything, but intends to tell the police that she saw him kill Sarah unless he agrees to break up with his wife immediately. Anthony leaves, then Michael tries to reason with Debra, but the two end up fighting and when he leaves she seems to be dead on the floor. From there, the plot unravels rapidly, leading toward a surprise ending.

End Spoilers

Considering the budget, this is a very well made film with a few good laughs in the beginning, and tremendous suspense leading to the great ending. Not only that, it has a lot of insight into certain race relations. This would be a decent effort at any budget, but for something made in 14 days for under $400K with only two locations, it is an amazing effort. It did well at every festival it appeared in, but couldn't get any distribution.



  • The DVD includes not one but two commentaries, one with the director/writer and producer/writer that is pretty much technical and anecdotal, and the other with the two male leads that is all comedy.



  • Debra Wilson shows a breast in a sex scene, then bush through a transparent nightie.

  •  Kristin Shaw shows breasts.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online.

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 2.9/10. This score makes no sense. 90% of the votes are three or higher.
  • no theatrical release
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C. Solid thriller with some humor and social relevance.

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