The Skin I Live In Essay

Submitted By thatguyevan
Words: 2634
Pages: 11

The Skin I live In: A Rape-Revenge Horror Melodrama The Skin I Live In, a film directed by Pedro Almodovar, is about a surgeon named Robert Ledgard who turns a boy named Vicente into a replica of his late wife after learning that Vicente raped his daughter. The film is best classified as a hybrid body genre film. It combines elements of horror and melodrama, specifically rape-revenge horror and maternal melodrama. Maternal melodrama, according to film scholar Linda Williams, is a melodrama where the “self-sacrificing mother must make her sacrifice that of the connection to her children-either for her or their own good. (Williams 308)”. A rape-revenge film is a sub-genre of horror in which a woman is raped and ultimately takes revenge on her attacker. The Skin I live In takes these concepts, combines them, and adds twists that make them far more complex.
The scene of Robert’s murder is a good example of a scene that contains elements of rape-revenge horror and melodrama. With two simple gunshots, the elements of all three of these genres are exposed. In this scene, Robert and Vera are about to have sex, but Vera is still sore from her recent rape by Robert’s brother Zeca. Vera gets up to get lubricant in order to remedy the problem but she is unable to find it. Robert, lying shirtless in the bed, tells Vera that she must have left it downstairs, and Vera heads down to get it. The lighting is now very dark and low key, and Vera is mostly a silhouette. We see Vera’s silhouette grab a bag, put it on the desk, and pull something out the lubricant. Immediately after, she opens the drawer of the desk. We cut to a close-up of the desk’s contents: some loose paper, a wooden spinning top, and a gun, which Vera’s hand is grabbing. There is a close-up of the purse as Vera puts the gun into it. She then puts the lubricant back in as well. Vera pulls the bag away and we see a close up of what was underneath it: a missing persons ad in the newspaper with Vicente’s picture. The shot goes from a blue, night-style lighting to a more orange light as we hear the click of a lamp being turned on. Here, the musical score lets the viewer know that something is changing. Until this point, we have had a deep, tension-building score playing with long, ominous notes played on string instruments. As the lights turn on however, a light piano score overlays and soon replaces the more ominous sounds. This is a moment of transitions: the transition from a frantic to a more sentimental emotion in Vera, the transition from horror to melodramatic, and the transition Vicente has made which he is now being reminded of. The camera cuts to a side-view of Vera’s face as she looks down at the image of her former self. Vera quickly looks up, startled by the sound of Robert calling her. Vera is interrupted from revisiting her former identity by the very man who robbed it from her.
Next we see a shot of Marilia, who is lying in bed in her dark bedroom awakened by Robert’s yell. We cut back to Vera, who bends over to kiss the image of her former self. Again, we see a shot of Vicente’s picture in the newspaper, which goes back to blue as the light is flicked back off. We cut to Robert’s bedroom doorway as Vera walks through. The camera cuts to Robert, who is still lying shirtless in bed. As soon as we see Robert, the ominous horror music makes a return. Vera throws the lubricant to Robert, who catches it in the bed, and we see a close-up of Vera placing the bag on a chair and pulling the gun out of it. She points the gun at a confused Robert, and she says that she is going to kill him. She then follows though and pulls the trigger, killing Robert. Here, Vera is taking her masculinity back. She is becoming a form of what Carol Clover calls the “final girl”, or the girl who ultimately defeats the killer in slasher films. Although she lacks some qualities that Clover attributes to the final girl, such a being virginal, Vera does fit the bill in other respects.