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SKUNK

As a raw, unflinching portrait of a teenager fighting off parental abuse and trauma in an institution Skunk would have resonated a lot better if the film hadn’t crossed over into misery porn territory.



Powerful, poignant films have been made before about children growing up in the social care system and it is important that these stories are told. That’s why I would never criticize Skunk’s existence. It doesn’t mean I like the movie though.


It’s not necessarily the extreme hardship that befalls the lead character, 17-year-old Liam, who is physically and mentally abused by his addicted parents before ending up in psychological childcare, which I found hard to swallow. It’s more the way director Koen Mortier presents it.


With one or two minor exceptions Skunk wears bleakness and a lack of hope as a proud badge, and never allows humour or a lighter tone seep in, making the film an unnaturally wrought experience instead of the realism it aspires to. It’s just all a bit too much to take.


Not helping either are some of the performances, most notably Sarah Vandeursen’s annoyingly hysteric portrayal as Liam’s mom, though Thibaud Dooms is a rare find in the lead role. And the least said about the denouement, which could have come straight out of an Eli Roth revenge film, the better.


So while I applaud Koen Mortier for bringing much needed attention to the subject that Skunk so harrowingly tackles, the chosen style undermines the message the film wants to convey.



release: 2024

director: Koen Mortier

starring: Thibaud Dooms, Natali Broods, Dirk Roofthooft, Sarah Vandeursen

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