Oh.. Oh, God no. We’re back to this. We’re back to my finding the worst-of-the-worst, lowest possibly rated horror films on Netflix, watching them in their entirety- and then thoroughly reviewing (and spoiling) them here throughout the month of October on “Legally Redhead”. Long story short: we’re back for the fourth year of my annual “Horrors of Netflix” series.
Although my recommendations/suggestions list was only recently starting to recover after continually streaming quality shows like “Stranger Things”, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” or re-watching the most recent season of “The Walking Dead” in preparation for this month’s premiere- I’m once again readying myself to destroy my queue for the sake of comedy, cheap scares and over-the-top gore.
However, the biggest challenge this year (and every year, really-) is selecting the first egg to crack in what will undoubtedly be a shitty omelette. Last year saw the series begin with a terrible Val Kilmer movie (we actually had two movies that predominantly featured him last October, go figure-) so I made sure to avoid that as much as possible while browsing Netflix and watching the star rating decrease more and more as I scrolled through title after title.
I was finally near the bottom of what Netflix had to offer when I spotted the poster for “Comforting Skin”. With a one star rating and clocking in at just over an hour and forty minutes- the premise piqued my interest:
“An insecure young woman gets a tattoo, hoping it will boost her confidence. But the design comes to life- taking over her body and mind.”
I can’t say I’ve ever seen a horror movie about a tattoo possessing anyone before- so I knew this would be a good (see: awful) place to start.
As always, I’ll be spoiling this film at length and in detail- so if you don’t want it to be ruined for you or for any reason feel the need to watch this for yourself- DO NOT click on the “Read More/Continue Reading” button.
You’ve been warned.
Welcome to “Horrors of Netflix: 2016”, everyone!
“Comforting Skin” kicks off in the worst way possible- within a nightclub where some generic and awful electronic dance music is playing while strobe lights flash and people writhe around awkwardly and uncomfortably. There’s a young woman seated alone at one of the tables- wearing the most unfortunate pair of strappy studded heels I’ve ever seen, an unflattering shade of lipstick and those weird, black finger-less gloves (that look like they’re made out of fleece) that Hot Topic used to sell in bulk circa 2001/2002. She’s making eyes at a guy across the bar who acknowledges her for all of two seconds before she spills her drink down the front of her face while attempting to sip it seductively and he’s so repulsed by this that he shakes his head and proceeds to ignore her.
As someone who has done this fairly regularly (I’m uncoordinated as shit)– I can tell you that literally no one cares when this happens. No one. I’m calling bullshit on this being some sort of turn-off for anyone right now.
Defeated, the woman slinks away to her apartment- which I assume is above the club since the guy she was literally just making eyes at is chasing a really loud and SUPER drunk woman to another apartment down the hall. Wait- so spilling a drink on yourself is a problem, but chasing after a drunk girl stumbling into everything isn’t? Where is the line between acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior on this one?
Once inside her residence, it’s easy to understand why no self-respecting person would step foot in there. The place is a hellhole that not even the Property Brothers would be able to salvage. The young woman proceeds to vent her frustrations about guys not noticing her to her male roommate as he reads on the top bunk of a bunk bed in the living room or something. He doesn’t really give a shit about her problems- which only prompts her to go into the bathroom and cry as she washes off her makeup and stares at her acne in her reflection. GIRL, I HAVE BEEN THERE. BE STRONG.
The next morning, we are treated to an unnecessarily long shot of the male roommate stirring sugar into his coffee at a diner until he’s joined by the same (and very hungover) woman with the bad fashion sense from the night before. I haven’t caught her name yet- so just bear with me. She’s not ordering breakfast- but the roommate sure is- and we proceed to watch him have the LONGEST conversation with the waitress about his order. By the end of it, I never wanted to eat or see another sausage in my life. The duo are joined by a third party, the very drunk woman from the night before who went home with the object of Hot Topic girl’s affections. Apparently they all live in the hellhole building together. Who would have known?
The male roommate, Nathan, ducks out immediately after picking a fight he can’t win over his more sexually liberated roommate’s lifestyle- and that’s the end of that scene. Okay then.
Hot Topic Preferred Customer is shown at her job where she helps build tires, or does some sort of welding- I have no idea- but she’s later shown meeting up with her younger sister after school where the two go to a comic book shop, try on sunglasses, and ultimately end up at a very sketchy looking art gallery. While the younger sister browses the unusually dark and dreary looking store- Hot Topic has an uncomfortable discussion with the gallery’s skeevy looking owner/artist. The two know each other- and from the sounds of things, used to go together or be romantically involved until something went wrong. He continually says she’s “not better” and shoots down her suggestion of spending time together, but Hot Topic disagrees. She gets emotional before taking her sister and leaving.
That night, at another job where she works as a dish washer- Hot Topic asks another staff member in the kitchen if she can “get something” from her. I’m not sure at this point if it’s alluding to drugs or anything illicit, but the woman tells her she can get them herself. From there, Hot Topic is grocery shopping at the world’s saddest bodega before she begins the walk home- groceries in tow- only to stop at the SEEDIEST tattoo parlor that is open late at night for some inexplicable reason. It’s honest to God in what looks like someone’s apartment/meth lab- and before I could say “oh no. She isn’t about to do that-” sure enough she does- returning to her apartment to show off her horrendous new ink to Nathan who- again- doesn’t really give a shit.
Feeling chipper in the days after making what I can only assume is another poor life choice, Hot Topic has a brief conversation with her sexually liberated female roommate about the tattoo and proceeds to stalk her ex from the art gallery. The two have a spat, where it’s finally confirmed that Hot Topic is/was using drugs at some point and that Mr. Big Shot Artist is done with her since he’s moved on to other women who apparently don’t mind sleeping with someone who doesn’t know how to install adequate lighting in his gallery.
Rejected and heartbroken (and probably out a ton of cash from that Godawful tattoo)– Hot Topic, who is apparently named Koffie.. Wait.. WHAT? KOFFIE? Am I hearing this right? I went back and turned subtitles on and sure enough. Her name is Koffie. Jesus Christ.
Anyway, following a night out together- Koffie tries to put the moves on an uninterested Nathan after he helps her apply some antibiotics to her infected looking ink. He immediately turns her down, and she proceeds to guilt him about not having sex with her while she was drunk (which actually seems like a really gentlemanly thing to do. You know, NOT having sex with the wasted girl) during some incident back when they were both in the ninth grade or something. I actually feel bad for the guy- who was only trying to help her get her oozing and discolored mismanagement of money under control but ends up trying to talk her off of a cliff. In a movie that’s filled with cringe-worthy scenes- it’s actually a pretty genuine and touching exchange.
Despite his efforts, Koffie retreats into her bedroom to self-harm- and for an instant I was wondering if I had accidentally selected a sad drama to watch instead of a horror movie- but things pick up when Koffie’s attempt to cut herself are stopped short by her tattoo talking to her. Yes, you read that right. The tattoo talks to her and tells her to chill the fuck out. She doesn’t, of course- and trades in her box cutter for a pistol to LITERALLY SHOOT HERSELF IN THE FOOT TO TRY AND STOP THE TATTOO FROM TALKING TO HER. She literally goes from 0 to 100 so fast. The tattoo isn’t having it, though. It spreads all over her body and Koffie just ends up passing out from shock, I assume.
The next morning, Koffie’s tattoo has escalated from trying to get her not to shoot her damned toes off to getting really creepy with the messages and crawling across her face. Koffie once again escalates the situation by trying to rub the tattoo off of her cheek with a cheese grater- but a soothing female voice in her head begs her not to and assures her that everything is going to be okay. As Nathan comes out into the kitchen to try and talk to Koffie about what had happened the night before- she takes off to be alone in some abandoned building and hear the voice/tattoo out. Eventually she starts talking back to her ink- and then we’re suddenly thrown into this weird masturbation scene back in her bedroom that I didn’t anticipate at all. She’s essentially having sex with her tattoo? WHAT IS THIS MOVIE.
Later on, Koffie and Nathan are riding in an elevator to go to what I think is a therapy session for him. While he’s talking- Koffie’s tattoo is also interjecting to tell Koffie what a dick it thinks Nathan is before it gets so fed up with being ignored that it takes over Koffie’s body to make things nice and awkward. Nathan seems more amused than weirded out, though- but he doesn’t accompany Koffie to dinner at her parents house in the next scene where things get nice and dysfunctional. Koffie’s mother is kind of a bitch. Her father is kind of a coward- and her poor little sister is stuck between them and Koffie as they scream at each other over steak and potatoes.
At that same terrible club from the beginning of the movie, Koffie and her sexually liberated roommate- Cynthia, I think her name is- are having drinks with a few randoms. Koffie’s ex from the gallery comes over to talk to a couple of people at the table while Koffie’s tattoo pipes up to read him to filth and assure Koffie she’s better off without him while Cynthia looks ridiculous in a knitted hat. I know this tattoo is supposed to be possessing Koffie and evil and all that, but it honestly gives her some sound advice- and she gets a confidence boost to tell her ex off before hitting the dance floor.
The next day, while doing the honorary “over him” ritual of burning old photos and tossing mementos from the relationship- Koffie talks to her tattoo about her relationship with Nathan. They’ve been best friends since they were kids and are apparently both recovering drug addicts. Koffie has lied to Nathan about injuries she stated her ex had inflicted on her- which I’m sure we’ll get into more in-depth later on whenever this picks up again. Until then, there’s a montage of Koffie picking out outfits, vacuuming her skin (….?) and taking a bath with Pop Rocks (……..?????) JUST BUY A BATH BOMB.
Nathan and Cynthia have a brief but heated exchange in the hallway, presumably while Koffie is in the apartment wasting a ton of Pop Rocks. Nathan throws the iciest of ice burns when Cynthia makes a pass at him (which I plan on using in the future at some point because it was so good.) Before he does, though- Cynthia plants the seed in Nathan’s head that Koffie has a new man in her life based on her upbeat and confident personality change. At this, Nathan starts to become visibly jealous and paranoid that his best friend is drifting away from him.
During the night of a performance Nathan has scheduled at a local theater where a piece he composed will be played- he seems heartbroken Koffie intends to meet him at the theater instead of accompanying him on the ride there. Crushed, he leaves to go- and Koffie’s tattoo manages to talk her out of attending all together: convincing Koffie that Nathan doesn’t appreciate her and that Koffie cares for him more than she cares about her tattoo. Did I really just write that sentence?
Nathan- uncomfortable and nervous- cannot bring himself to enter the theater alone, and instead listens to the piece from outside the exit doors. That night, Koffie sits down with him after he gets back to ask how it went. They inevitably argue about her flaking out on him. Koffie feels genuine remorse, but the tattoo intervenes to tell her she made the right decision and she has to let go of her past. Not finished- the tattoo also tries to convince her to quit her dish-washing job at a bar/restaurant- right around the time Cynthia is there and catches a guy she had been seeing enter the establishment with another woman. Infuriated, Cynthia attacks a woman in the bathroom after Koffie tries to empower her to move on the way her own tattoo has empowered her.
At home, after joining in on the scuffle- Koffie and Nathan have a tender moment and embrace in the kitchen. This infuriates Koffie’s tattoo- who begins whispering some thinly veiled threats and accusations at her. Koffie tells her tattoo to fuck off- and it seems to work. For some inexplicable reason, though- Koffie’s self-confidence tanks almost immediately after the fact. She gets SO low in her morale that she eventually promises her tattoo that she’ll never speak to Nathan if it starts communicating with her again- which is absolutely ridiculous on so many levels but mainly because Nathan has been lookin’ pretty fine in recent scenes and seems to be into Koffie.
Koffie’s tattoo is still being stubborn as shit- and Koffie decides to unwind over a drink in Cynthia’s room while the two talk about Nathan and Koffie’s younger sister with some old timey jazz playing in the background. Things tense up with Koffie goes to pick up a stuffed monkey that Cynthia has on her vanity. I’m sure it symbolizes something important in her life- but with less than a half hour left of the movie- I don’t know if we’ll get to it.
Back in her own space, Koffie goes to run a hot bath. Nathan- more than perturbed at her distant and erratic behavior now that her tattoo isn’t giving her pep talks anymore- investigates her room to see what’s going on under his nose. I’m not entirely sure how he figures out there’s something up with Koffie’s tattoo- but some bloodied shirts he finds lead him to the parlor where she had the work done. Elsewhere, Koffie has a brief and angry confrontation with her younger sister when she tries to get her to come hang out but her sister puts school and band practice, first.
Koffie begins to slip further and further into a drunken downward spiral with Cynthia, who reveals at last that she knows about the power Koffie’s tattoo has and wants desperately to experience it herself. Koffie takes off just as the voices start up again- pushing her over the edge. Nervous and losing her grip- she attempts to find comfort in a random waiter at a diner when her tattoo stops her- physically forcing her away from the guy and into a nearby counter top where her face gets jacked up. She manages to make it home when Nathan finds her in the hallway and assumes her ex from the gallery had beaten her up. Making the grave error of leaving Koffie in Cynthia’s care- Nathan runs off to confront Koffie’s ex…
… Where nothing happens. Cynthia and Koffie have some bizarre sex scene and Nathan returns the next morning to tell Koffie her ex told him everything and he wants to get her help. With just under ten minutes left- I’m so completely lost at this point and was praying for this to just be over. Koffie confesses to Nathan that she’s in love with her tattoo- that it makes her unique and special and that no one can separate them. To prove a point, Nathan drags Koffie back to the tattoo parlor to show her the design is neither unique OR special- and was randomly selected out of a book of available designs.
Nathan takes it one step further, and drags Koffie into the actual room where the artist who did her ink is applying the same exact tattoo- to Cynthia. Koffie flips out- smashing the artist’s head with a tray before fleeing into the backroom with a large knife she found OUT OF NOWHERE and barricading herself inside. Her tattoo starts talking to her again- urging her to kill both her (and it) together while Nathan pleads with Koffie from outside the door to let him in to help. Nathan has quickly become the MVP of this movie and is really the only likable character.
Koffie agrees to do the deed- but only if the tattoo makes her feel warm and fuzzy inside one more time. The design agrees, traveling down to her toes- and Koffie proceeds to cut her toes off. I repeat: SHE CUTS HER TOES OFF– just as Nathan bursts into the room where Koffie looks surprisingly calm.
And that’s the end of the movie.
That’s.. Wait- that’s it?
So, we don’t get any explanation as to how or why the tattoo could even talk in the first place? Was it demonic? Was it all in Koffie’s head? How did Cynthia find out about it? What was Koffie’s fascination with Pop Rocks? Why did cutting off her toes suddenly stop her from hearing voices? Why was this classified as a horror movie when it wasn’t scary at all? Who wrote his movie and more importantly- who gave it the green light to be made?
Also- give me a sequel that’s entirely about Nathan ordering breakfast at that diner from the beginning of the movie. By comparison to the rest of this film- it’s infinitely more interesting to watch.
It’s going to be a long October.