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The Reflecting Skin
IMDB Rating: 7.1/10 from 4,305 votes
Release: 15 March 1991 (Netherlands) /

The Reflecting Skin

Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Director: Philip Ridley,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: A young boy tries to cope with rural life circa 1950s and his fantasies become a way to interpret events. After his father tells him stories of vampires, he becomes convinced that the widow up the road is a vampire, and tries to find ways of discouraging his brother from seeing her. He must deal with an abusive mother, a father with a charge of molestation, a band of youths creating havoc, and an unforgiving environment in general. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

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Critic Reviews

I only read the most recent 12 reviews, but it seems you either really appreciate this film or you think it sucks. Apparently, some folks see art in the tragic and angst-ridden characters, and others are disgusted by their actions and the depressing imagery. Personally, my motives were not too sophisticated: I found it in the "horror" section at the video store and it looked pretty stylish and of course, Aragorn was in it, so I said what the heck. I thought the film, though disturbing, was indeed a fascinating and thought-provoking piece of cinematic art.

Anyway, I'm wondering if Philip Ridley was commenting on the narcissism, arrogance, violence, and corruption of U.S. culture. Not that others couldn't be accused of similar vices, but... I think the boy Seth and the other lead characters symbolize our national conscience. We run around blowing up frogs and tearing up peoples' property with no remorse, then create our own moral/spiritual sources to console us out of empty, dead things (like a stillborn child). We wallow in our domestic dysfunctions, while excelling at denial about them (like the nutty mother). We like a good witch hunt, accusing the depressed widow or the agonized former pedophile, while ignoring the obvious handsome suspects in the nice Caddy. We flit around wrapped in our flag thinking we're innocent, all the while nuking children in war only to focus on how their radiated skin looks like a mirror in which we can see our lovely reflections. But someone else gets the last laugh, since we're all self-destructing as a result of it all, and while at first Seth's screaming frenzy as the finale confused me, I realize now it's a fitting end to that interpretation.

Or something like that. It might just be about a bored rural kid with no conscience and a wild imagination whose failure to tell the truth ends up hurting everyone around him. Or about the price of tea in China. It's worth the view, though, if you like Gothic thrillers.

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