The Reflecting Skin (film)

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The Reflecting Skin
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Philip Ridley
Produced by Dominic Anciano
Ray Burdis
Written by Philip Ridley
Starring Jeremy Cooper
Viggo Mortensen
Lindsay Duncan
Music by Nick Bicât
Cinematography Dick Pope
Edited by Scott Thomas
Distributed by Virgin Vision (UK)
Miramax Films (US)
Release dates
  • 9 September 1990 (1990-09-09) (Toronto)
  • 9 November 1990 (1990-11-09) (UK)
Running time
95 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $17,042[2]

The Reflecting Skin is a 1990 British / Canadian horror film written and directed by Philip Ridley and stars Jeremy Cooper, Viggo Mortensen, and Lindsay Duncan. The film follows a young child growing up in rural Idaho in the 1950s.


Eight-year-old Seth Dove becomes obsessed with the idea of vampires and soon attaches his fixation onto a reclusive local widow named Dolphin Blue. After his father’s suicide, Seth’s older brother Cameron comes home from his military tour of duty in Micronesia. Both emotionally wounded, Cameron and Dolphin begin an affair, leaving Seth to become completely infatuated with the notion of his brother’s danger. Along with this, Seth finds himself at the mercy of an unstable mother along with a group of men, who plague the small children of Seth’s continually shrinking rural population.


  • Jeremy Cooper as Seth Dove
  • Viggo Mortensen as Cameron Dove
  • Lindsay Duncan as Dolphin Blue
  • Sheila Moore as Ruth Dove
  • Duncan Fraser as Luke Dove
  • David Longworth as Joshua
  • Robert Koons as Sheriff Ticker


The film weaves elements of the grotesque, vampirism, child sexual abuse, and religious zealotry throughout its narrative about the perceptions and fantasies of an impressionable pre-adolescent boy and his friends.


At the 1990 Locarno International Film Festival, Ridley won three awards, C.I.C.A.E. Award, the FIPRESCI Prize, and Silver Leopard. At the 1990 "Sitges" Catalonian International Film Festival, Lindsay Duncan won the Best Actress award and Dick Pope the award for Best Cinematography. At the 1990 Stockholm Film Festival, Ridley received the FIPRESCI Prize.

The film places the majority of its action outdoors around the dilapidated farms and in the wheat fields of Idaho shot in idyllic sunlight which belies the dark secrets of the characters and plot. The story is told in an objective, somewhat absurdist style, which recalls David Lynch by way of Days of Heaven.

Home media[edit]

The film was released on Region 1 (US) DVD on 11 December 2011 by Echo Bridge Entertainment. The transfer is of poor quality and likely a direct port of either the VHS or Laserdisc. It features no extras. The film has not been released on DVD or Blu-ray in the UK; however, an English-friendly DVD is available from Japan, and the German Blu-ray has an English audio track (but questionable picture quality).


External links[edit]