May 5, 2020  (Web Review)

Skin Deep: The Battle Over Morgellons

Gravitas Ventures, 90 min., DVD: $16.99, Blu-ray: $16.99, Mar. 31

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Not for the fainthearted or anyone trying to pair dinner with a movie, the documentary Skin Deep: The Battle Over Morgellons focuses, often microscopically, on a ravaging skin disease that leaves sufferers covered in ulcers and, weirdly, protein fibers growing from their flesh. Aside from the misery caused, there’s a problem: the medical community doesn’t believe the disease exists. Victims call the condition Morgellons, and it is typically linked to advanced cases of Lyme Disease, the latter also frequently dismissed by doctors as a fantasy wrought by mental illness. The film wisely seeks out and follows several apparently sane people who are living with Morgellons and resisting the impulse to isolate themselves because of visible wounds and fibers. Story after story finds these folks ignored by physicians who claim Morgellons is a delusion and that people who claim to have it need to be taking anti-psychotic medication. The condescension from these experts is maddening and hard to fathom, though Skin Deep makes clear precedent exists for many doctors not to go up against a de facto consensus. For example stomach ulcers were once regarded as just pain from eating poorly during stress. Director Pi chronicles a gradual rise in militancy among Morgellons victims as they find their footing as organized activists demanding change. It’s hard to imagine they won’t get it over time. Strongly recommended. Aud: C,P. (T. Keogh)