The Reflecting Skin

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.
Director(s): Philip Ridley
Production: Miramax Films
  6 wins & 3 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
96 min

Look at this wonderful frog!

Where'd you get it?

Down by the river.

It was sitting on a log!

- Look how big it is!

- Looks like a cane.

- Let's go sit down.

- Must be heavy.


- Has she been by yet?

- No.

- Look at its skin.

- Yeah...

- My turn to blow.

- Is not!

- Is too!

- Is not!

Shut up! Who's got the reed?

- Well, what can I do?

- You can hold the frog.

I don't wanna watch!

I watched last time!

- Shut up Eben!

- Watching is nothing!

Eben, just watch!

Quick! She's coming!

Come on, come on,

don't drop it...

Alright, let's go, come on...

- Ma says it's wicked.

- What?

- Exploding frogs.

- Why?

She says it's a sin

to kill things.

It's just a frog.

Still says it's wrong.

Bad to make it dead.

My Ma's dead.

She's in Heaven.

No she's not, she's in a coffin.

Not true. She's in Heaven,

she's an angel.

What's an angel?

A baby with wings.

Every time you make your Ma cry

you kill an angel.

I make my Ma cry all the time.

Sometimes I just look at her and she cries.

It's someone who doesn't blink.

They go to Heaven and become an angel.

That's not so Eben. Your Ma's

in a coffin being eaten by worms.

Not so!

- You gonna cry, Eben?

- No.

Why are your eyes wet then?

Eben's crying! Eben's crying!

Eben's crying! Eben's crying!

Eben's crying!

Scrub all day and

I can still smell it...

Gasoline and grease!

Your breath stinks of it.

Your skin stinks of it.

I go to bed and the

sheets stink of it.

When neighbors call--

Not that they do call...

I see them sniffing... sniffing.

I spend all day bleaching

the smell away...

Then you come home and

I have to start all over again.

There's not enough bleach to burn

the stench of you away, Luke Dove.

Your spit tastes of it,

do you know that?

You're a walking timebomb, Luke Dove.

One day you'll sit in the sun

and go up-- Bang!

You'll be... what's the word?


Things'll have to change when

Cameron gets home. You hear me?

He won't wanna wake up to

gasoline and grease.

Cameron's been used to

the pretty islands.

Pretty sea. Pretty sand.

Everything pretty.

There's coconuts on the

pretty islands.

Not a car in sight.

Just canoes.

Not like this dump!

He sweats gasoline that man!

It oozes from him!

Things'll be different when Cameron

gets back. Things will change.

I miss Cameron.

I know... I know. I miss him too.

- You thirsty, son?

- No.

You should drink. Turn to dust.

A man's gotta drink.

- You thirsty, Pa?

- I guess.

You want some water?

Well that'll go down real nice, son.

What you readin' there, Pa?

- Book.

- What's it about, Pa?

Vampires, son.

What's vampires?

They're not very nice.

They bite your neck and

drink your blood. Stuff like that.

Not very sociable.

What they do that for, Pa?

'Cos if they don't, they get old.

Do it to stay young.

And then the people whose

blood they drunk, why, they get old.

And then they die.

And during the day

they sleep in a coffin...

and at night they turn into a bat.

If they feel so inclined.

Any vampires around these parts, Pa?

Wouldn't be at all surprised.

You ever seen a vampire, Pa?

No I haven't, son.

But then again I ain't been lookin'.

See to it Seth, would ya?

My vampire's in convulsions.

Fill her up... please?

What's your name?


- Seth what?

- Seth Dove.

How old are you, Seth Dove?

Nearly nine.

- Is that your father up there?

- Yeah.

He looks like a scarecrow.

- Are you a scarecrow's son?

- No.

I was hoping you were.

We'll be seeing you...

Would you like that?


Be good now, Seth Dove.


You've been exploding frogs again.

- No...

- I heard different.

- She lied!

- Who lied?

The English lady!

I can see through you

to the garage beyond.

You go round there and

say you're sorry.

- But Ma!

- Get.


Come in. I won't bite.

Sit down.

Frogs. Who cares?

It's my dress I was worried about.

Did far worse when I was a child,

goodness yes.

We used to tie fireworks to cats' tails

and set them on fire.

Ever do that?

Oh... you should do it.

Boy, do they move.

Whoosh! Straight down the street.

Asses burnt to a cinder.

I remember once... we put

my mum's canary in the oven.

It went 'pop.' Exploded.

Just like that frog,

come to think of it.

My husband's family

used to be into whaling.

Before they became farmers.

Do you like it?

Take it. Go on.

Who's that?

That's my husband.

His name was Adam. I met him in London.

I married him and came here.

We were happy for one week.

And then one day I went into the barn...

and there he was.

His face was bright red.

Tongue blue. Eyes going 'pop.'

He'd hung himself, you see.

He was... very... beautiful.

His eyes were...

His hair...

His skin...

Oh... his skin...

He used to hold me in his arms

and sing to me...

"You are my sunshine..."

my only sunshine...

"You make me happy...

when skies are grey..."

Well, now there's no

sunshine in my life.

I hate sunshine.

Sometimes... terrible things

happen quite naturally.

You look different.

Oh well... yes.

He made me younger I suppose.

Without him I get older by the minute.

Bits of me fall off.

I get up in the morning and

half of me stays in bed.

Can't bring myself to look

in mirrors anymore.

Tell me, how old do you think I am?



Why, what a compliment.

Oh no, I'm older than that.

I'm two hundred years old.

Can't you see all my wrinkles

and grey hairs? Look.


You can?

Come and sit next to me.

Come on.

- Do you know what that is?

- No.

It's one of my Adam's teeth.

- This? Do you know what this is?

- Hair.

That's right. My husband's hair.

These are his reading glasses.

This is his comb.

You see? It's all that's

left of him now.

Just a box of bits and pieces.

You fall in love, and almost at once

that loved one dies,

and you're left with nothing.

Nothing at all.

Just a few memories

and a house where he was a boy.

Nothing but dreams and decay. And a box!

A box from his childhood.

A childhood you weren't even a part of.


Oh, this... this is the smell of him.


It's him... it's him!

It's the smell of him.

The smell of him...

Oh, my darling... my darling...

Smell my dead one!

A vampire...

She's a vampire!


- You're awake.

- A little.

It's time you were asleep.

No, Ma...

- What is it now?

- Nothing...

- Just grow up and go to sleep.

- But...

- You want the water?

- No.

Then the light goes out.


Every last drop.

You're not finished yet, my boy.

I'm gonna burst, I gotta go...

Not until you've finished.

Every last drop. Go on! Drink!

I'll be sick...

Then you'll just have to be sick.

Keep on drinking.

I can't, Ma, really!

- Go on, you haven't finished...

- Ma...

Drink it... drink it!

You're gonna drink until

your stomach's fit to burst!

You're gonna drink it all, Seth Dove,

even if it takes all night!

You're gonna drink it all!

I can smell your father.

The Lord's taken him

because I'm a sinner.

Just like He took my Rachel.

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Philip Ridley

Philip Ridley (born 1964 in East London) is an English storyteller working in a wide range of artistic media. In the visual arts he has been cited as a contemporary to the 'Young British Artists', and had his artwork exhibited internationally.As a novelist he has created fiction for both children and adults, and has had particular success and recognition as a children's author.In the field of cinema he is perhaps best known for his award-winning screenplay for the 1990 film The Krays (1990), a biopic about the Kray twins which was directed by Peter Medak. As a film-maker in his own right he is recognised for creating a loose trilogy of horror films; The Reflecting Skin (1990), The Passion of Darkly Noon (1995) and Heartless (2009) for which he has acquired a cult following.As a playwright he has been cited as a pioneer of 'In-yer-face theatre', with his debut play The Pitchfork Disney (1991) considered by many to be a seminal work in the development of the style, with one critic even dubbing it "the key play" of the 1990s. A great number of his plays for adults have been perceived as controversial, being met with both condemnation and high acclaim upon their initial reception. As a writer for the stage he is also recognised for creating an ongoing series of plays for young people (The Storyteller Sequence) and has written theatrical works for children and family audiences.As a songwriter he has created songs for his cinematic and theatrical works, frequently collaborating with composer Nick Bicât. He and Bicât have also formed a music group called Dreamskin Cradle with singer Mary Leay. Ridley has also written songs for composer Anna Meredith, particularly operatic work.Ridley is also a poet, photographer, and performance artist and has written drama for radio.Although Ridley creates stories through a wide range of media he dislikes his work being categorised by the medium in which it is told, often referring to them belonging to each other as "different peaks of the same mountain." more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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