Up for a scare, but decided nothing can achieve that anymore? You’ve seen everything. Every awful cliché… You haven’t seen this!
Pedro Almodovar’s contemporary story puts a new spin on “What’s your favourite scary movie?” There’s no blonde one that dies first, no squeaky music, no overload of blood. There is however, plastic surgery, mind games and plenty of sex that’ll make your legs cross.
Antonio Bandera plays tormented surgeon, Robert Ledgard, on the verge of a breakthrough for his idea of synthetic skin, but without any approval or funding, he’ll need a guinea pig. Between his wife’s suicide and admitting his daughter, it becomes understandable for him to find solae in his astonishingly attractive lab rat, Vera, played by Elena Anaya. Meanwhile, a confused boy, Vincent, is seen meeting Robert’s daughter at a wedding. When she starts hysterically screaming while they’re getting close, Vincent runs, leaving the girl’s dress in tact but her paranoia of rape alive.
The two stories come together when Robert hunts down his daughter’s “rapist” and kidnaps him, keeping him captive in an at-home operation room…
The beauty of The Skin I Live In is its sheer casual nature: set in an expensive, not ancient mansion, with most aspects occurring in broad daylight – it makes you wary of walking to the corner shop.
Also new to horror, it makes you question your own perception. The film’s opening scene shows crushed drugs being poured into the captive’s morning OJ, but as the film goes on you wonder if the drugs are necessary to help her rather than for any other vile motives you can think of. A man kidnaps a boy and reconstructs him into a beautiful woman. But the boy was confused: effeminate, only making a move on an uninterested woman, and always high when getting close to any other. Was he set free? A girl on drugs for psychosis appears to be getting her life back on track with a date – until she starts hysterically screaming due to a song. And to top it all off, the thriller stars Antonio Banderas: a man notorious for swooning just about anyone with that accent. It gets confusing falling for a psycho. Ultimately, the pressing question of the film whether what is achieved is disgusting or beautiful.
In keeping with the casual tone of the film, the soundtrack is few and carefully selected. Which works because, let’s face it: life has no soundtrack. The most traumatising moments of the film are played out in silence, as are any traumatising moments in the real world. It means you hear every scream. Aside from the traumatising moments, the soundtrack is generally gentle or soothing – to perhaps lull you into a false sense of security. The soundtrack features songs such as Between The Bars performed by Chris Garneau and a joyful performance from “wedding singer”, Concha Buika.
UK Release date: 26th August 2011
UK Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Running Time: 120mins
Director(s) Name: Pedro Almodovar
Main Actors Names (approx 5): Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Marisa Paredes, Jan Cornet, Blanca Suarez,
Countries of Production: Spain
Rating: 4 out of 5
Year Of Production: 2011
Formats: DVD and Blu-ray
Original Language(s): Spanish
English Translation: English subtitles
Writer’s Credit: Laura Maxwell