Movie Short Review: Oscar Nominated ‘Skin’ From Guy Nattiv

Review by David Ferguson

Greetings again from the darkness. Bestowed with an Oscar nomination for Best Live Action Short Film, this story from Israeli director Guy Nattiv, who co-wrote the script with Sharon Maymon, is stunning and frightening in how much of a punch it packs into 19 minutes. The influence parents have on their kids is at the heart of this devastating tale.

Jackson Robert Scott (Georgie from IT) stars as Troy, the young son of Jeffrey (Jonathan Tucker, “Justified”) and Christa (Danielle Macdonald, PATTI CAKE$). The film opens with dad Jeffrey taking the shears to Troy’s hair on the front porch. Then all 3 hop in the car with friends, singing a horribly inappropriate song on the way to shooting guns at beer bottles. Later, Troy convinces his dad to take him “surfing”. Of course, there are no waves in sight … you just have to see it to believe it.

Two things are abundantly clear: these are stereotypical hillbillies, and Troy loves his dad very much. Soon we learn something else. Dad is a white supremacist. While at the grocery store, a black man (Ashley Thomas) offers a friendly greeting to Troy, and dad snaps into vile racist mode. Seemingly out of nowhere, Jeffrey’s fellow gang of racists join him in violently pummeling the friendly black man. The vicious beating takes place in front of the man’s frantic wife, daughter and son (roughly the same age as Troy). It’s a family that mirrors Troy’s, with one exception – skin color.

It’s not long before a group of African-Americans take revenge on Jeffrey, albeit in a less violent, yet more permanent and clever manner. Bronny (Lonny Chavis, “This is Us”) is allowed to watch as the revenge plays out. The tables have been turned on Jeffrey, and the shocking ending proves that hate only leads to more hate … and sometimes hate is blind. Racism is a self-perpetuating culture that survives only when passed from one generation to the next. Filmmaker Nattiv and his producing partner-wife Jaime Ray Newman remind us that we reap what we sow. They have a feature length film being released later this year based on the true story of Bryon Widner – a story that likely influenced this impactful short.

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