Jess Coulter’s Skincare unmasks the fear of aging

(Kristin Slaysman)

The Reel 360 Team loves Halloween and loves, even more, 20th Digital’s popular Bite-Size Halloween series – streaming on Huluween. We got a peek at award-winning filmmaker Jess Coulter’s first short film, Skincare, which debuted on Hulu earlier this month.

Known for high-profile comedic commercials like Snickers ‘First Visitors’, Coulter has gone to the dark side this Halloween with her short film debut which is akin to something we might see on Tales from The Crypt or the current Creepshow on Shudder.

Skincare is a well-paced horror thriller comedy, which captures the plight of today’s women, in this case Bella, who is terrified, especially in a world of Instagram, of aging and becomes far scarier when she tries to prevent it.

Her solution – a strange LED light mask that looks like it could have been made by Jabbawockeez.

Kristin Slaysman stars as Bella in the cautionary tale produced by O Positive, with perfectly moody cinematography by Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Robert Yeoman. 

“Is there anything scarier than aging,” Coulter asked. “Maybe death? But at least when you’re dead you no longer have jowls to contend with. I think we all have feelings about aging. Fear and hopefully acceptance, preferably earlier than later. But there is no question that we take it too far sometimes. Or that it can take hold of us in a way where the cure is worse than the symptom.”

Coulter adds, “This film is of course a parable. But it’s not a straight line. If you had asked me about botox a few years ago I would have said no way. I can see now that there is a world in which one day I might try it. And how slippery is this slope? Privilege plays a lot into that answer which is an entirely different conversation. I have both empathy and admiration for all women no matter where they are on the slide. No matter how untouched they are or how far they felt they had to or wanted to go. It’s complicated. All bodies are good bodies. I personally want to age in strength but also acknowledge the programming.”  

The script, written by Coulter, is well-paced and trippy. Coulter’s sharp dialogue along with Slaysman’s performance makes Bella perfectly unlikeable, but we still want to see her escape from her situation. The twist ending, which we won’t reveal here, could have been better, but the short is still a fun Tales From the Crypt jaunt.

BOTTOM LINE: Skincare is a REEL SEE.

Click here to watch Skincare

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Colin Costello is the West Coast Editor of Reel 360. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @colinthewriter1