The Reflecting Skin (1990)

Starring: Jeremy Cooper, Viggo Mortensen, Lindsay Duncan

Plot: Set in a 1950s-era American heartland of sprawling wheat fields and lonely old houses, The Reflecting Skin is British director Philip Ridley's fascinating and very strange investigation into the horrors of childhood innocence and fantasy.

My Review and Thoughts:

You ever see one of those movies that stick with you, your whole entire life. That's this movie. I remember first seeing it on a cable channel back in the early 90's when I was a real young kid and it has forever haunted me.

The Reflecting Skin is a 1990 British horror film written and directed by Philip Ridley and it’s a true masterpiece of a twisted nature of thick story, images and a young boy growing up in the 1950's in Idaho in the middle of nowhere.

The movie itself leaves a lasting impression on the viewer for its moments of grotesque imagery, its idea of an original vampirism type story and sex abuse of children, but most of all the overtones of religious actions. The movie is a narrative. It's a fantasy laced nightmare or dream that is reality through the small young eyes of your main character Seth who is 10 years old.

The beauty of this haunting storybook fairytale type film is young Seth knows all the dangers around him. His brother Cameron played by the very young Viggo Mortensen comes home from war and starts a relationship with a local woman named Dolphin Blue who is stunningly played by the wonderful amazing brilliant actress Lindsay Duncan.

Now Seth realizes that Dolphin Blue is not a normal woman or at least his over acted imagination thinks she is. He thinks he knows the danger that his brother is in and he also experiences the reality that there are local men hunting and seeking young boys, kidnapping young boys for their sexual needs and one by one he witnesses his friends and local children missing. He also has to experience home life which is falling apart before his eyes because his mother is unstable.

Seth becomes infatuated with the idea of the danger around him, the danger of his brother, the danger of the men and he starts to unravel secrets. He starts to witness the place he lives with all its dark nightmares.

Truly a haunting visual tour-de-force of brilliant storytelling. Possibly one of the greatest written narrative films. Haunting childhood coming-of-age mixed with the horrors of the unknown and the idea of present danger through the eyes of a young boy.

The majority of the story takes place in the rural setting of trashed and falling down farms and in the golden wheat fields of Idaho and its community which seems to be falling apart.

"Why don't you go play with your friends?
"They're all dead."---Seth to his brother’s question.

This is written and directed by an amazing director Philip Ridley. It shocks me that he has not brought out more films or not recognized more. It's also shocking that his films seem to never get the special edition Blu-ray DVD presentations they deserve. The Reflecting Skin deserves to be a special edition and treated with all the high tech beauty that's out there. Until a couple years ago you couldn't even find a decent copy of The Reflecting Skin. He has recently put out a new movie that is a stunning film that I think should have gotten more press, more talk, or more of a following to it and that's 2009's Heartless which was another stunning and haunting film that mixed visuals with a fantasy and dark setting. I do think The Reflecting Skin was his one-of-a-kind original masterpieces that stands out above and beyond his other work.

This is a movie that's hard to explain unless you've seen it, if you like thick great storytelling, awesome visuals, haunting underlining plot with secrets and dark twists and turns then this is a movie that should be adored. This is a movie that should be spoken about, should be on any shelf of a person that loves true awesome cinema.

What's amazing about this movie is it’s timeless. It does not age. That's how brilliantly written and directed it was. It’s as fresh as it was then as it is now. You watch it once, you watch twice and watch it again, it doesn't make a difference, and it always feels fresh and always feels like it doesn't age. It's a movie that was thought out, created, acted and directed superbly.

What saddens me is I can mention a movie like Blue Velvet and everybody knows what it is, but I mention The Reflecting Skin and the majority of the people have no idea what I'm talking about and that's a true shame, that's true sadness because Ridley is as powerful and amazing as David Lynch. Nothing against David Lynch because I'm a huge fan of his and Blue Velvet is a stunning brilliant movie but so is The Reflecting Skin. I feel The Reflecting Skin is even better than Blue Velvet and they are both on that same premise, that dark shadowy surreal atmosphere.

What needs to be said is this is the movie that introduced Jeremy Cooper. This was his first movie role and he was a magical young boy actor that captured the part of Seth Dove extraordinarily brilliant for this being his first main movie. It showcases how amazing his talent, his natural talent is on the screen. Sadly this was his only real role. He acted in other small spots but never as the main character again.

Have to give a huge shout out to Nick Bicat for doing the music score. It is amazingly haunting, going along with the surreal atmosphere of Gothic nightmarish reality and imagination.

The sinister reality that young Seth has to go through, the images, the haunting atmosphere, the death of children and loved ones. Everyone around him is crazy in one way or another. Each and every character seems to be psychotic in some way, crazy and somewhat depressed, lost in their own little twisted world. Everything seems to be decayed, life in general, homes, farms and reality itself.

Even though he's only in the movie a short time Jason Wolff gives a truly dark twisted sickening performance as the driver of the Cadillac. One of the true monsters of the story that young Seth has no understanding about.

There are two haunting moments that have always remained with me ever since I saw this for the first time back in the early 90s. The shot of Seth's father and the flames at the gas pumps, is something that has always remained with me. It was filmed as a beautiful moment of clarity and a disturbing blackness watching the eyes of Seth and his body twitching, twitching, watching his father right before the explosion, it was a moment that was extraordinarily filmed.

The other haunting moment was the discovery of the dead fetus and when Seth speaks to it and believes that it's an angel. Seeing this as a kid really freaked me out.

A film of beauty. A film of nightmares. A film of imagination. This is a tragic rural storybook tale of darkness and coming of age inside the mind of a young boy and his tragic surroundings.

This film is an unusual atmosphere of beauty.

A unique American gothic tale that will leave a lasting impression upon your mind.