Top positive review
"What is kiling the children?"
on 23 March 2016
Please note that this review discusses details of the plot.
First and foremost, this film concerns the terrifying world of the adults, as seen
through the innocent eyes of a young boy. It is a parable about the horrors of Cold-War America:
The existential threat of the Bomb, the religious hysteria, the persecution of homosexuals.
Sometime in the 1950s, in the middle of a rural nowhere, lives a young boy, Seth Dove.
It is a blighted existence: Father, Luke Dove keeps a derelict gas station, while mother Ruth
tries to keep a semblance of order in a ramshackle house. There is no TV, radio or phone.
The yard is strewn with decaying automotive parts and rusting machinery.
But the fields are golden under the azure sky, and the sun burns bright-much like a nuclear explosion.
Cameron, Seth's older brother is serving in the Army, in the Pacific islands.
Young widow Dolphin Blue, a beautiful, pale blond is Seth's object of latent erotic fascination-
expressed as hostility. Together with buddies Eben and Kim, Seth plays awful pranks on the gentle widow.
Seth's father is a closet homosexual. He escapes the incessant haranguing of his wife by immersing himself
in a cheap pulp about vampires. A casual discussion about this book convinces Seth that Dolphin Blue is a vampire.
When young Eben is found murdered, Seth is certain that it is the vampire's doing. But the deputy Sheriff
accuses Seth's father, because, years ago, he was seen kissing a young man. Devastated by the false accusations,
and humiliated in front of his wife and son, Luke Dove immolates himself in the gas station.
Cameron returns from the Army right after his father's funeral. He tells Seth that he was blowing up the beautiful
Pacific islands-in the (Hydrogen) Bomb tests. He shows Seth the picture of an injured Hiroshima baby.
He claims that the baby's skin had become shiny silver. (Hence the title of the film).
Cameron meets Dolphin Blue, and the two lonesome souls fall hopelessly in love.
But Cameron doesn't realize that he has been affected by radiation sickness: He is losing weight,
his gums bleed, and his hair is falling off. Seth is convinced that all this is caused by the widow's vampiric
affections. Inside a newspaper cocoon, in the barn, Seth discovers a preserved human fetus.
Seth confides to this dead baby his innermost fears about the widow.
Young Kim, Seth's other friend is also murdered. Seth has witnessed Kim's abduction,
and he knows that the perpetrators are a gang of young thrill seekers, riding in a gleaming black car.
But Seth doesn't inform the adults. Instead, he watches passively, when the killers offer unsuspecting
Dolphin Blue "a ride to town". When the lifeless corpse of the widow is discovered, Cameron is shattered.
Only then does Seth realize the enormity of his sin. In the final sunset, Seth-alone like the last human on Earth,
is screaming to the sky and futilely grasping at the soil-or is it nuclear dust?
The outstanding image quality of the Blu-ray does justice to the astounding cinematography of the film.
There's a couple of featurettes with the director, which unfortunately are not subtitled.
Two earlier short film of the director are also included: Visiting Mr. Beak (1987) and The Universe of Dermot Finn (1988)
These are subtitled in English SDH, like the main film. Image quality is of VHS resolution for the first one,
and Standard Definition for the second. They illustrate some common thematic elements with "The Reflecting Skin",
such as weird children, unconventional families, overbearing mothers, and frogs...