Ben Aston's He Took His Skin Off for Me is one of the most literal short films I have yet to see, as it concerns the relationship between two people, where, the male (Sebastian Armesto) loved his partner (Anna Maguire) so much he decided to take every part of his skin completely off his body, leaving him nothing but a bright red display of muscles and ventricles. The eleven-minute short film chronicles the relationship these two have created with one another, with the female of the relationship talking about the struggles that have come about with her lover carrying out such a drastic act. While love-making and intimacy hasn't suffered, cleaning the house has become more of a common practice, as her partner leaves bloodstains all over the floors, carpets, sheets, and clothes, and his job has suffered a sharp decline due to his inability to close deals because of the distraction of his physical appearance. Nonetheless, the two share a strong bond and are largely unfazed by the opinions and glares of outsiders.
Before anything else is said, special effects artists Colin Arthur and Jen Cardno must be commended for their unfathomable anatomical makeup, perfected and executed using no computer animation and all practical effects. Aston states Armesto sometimes spent up to eight hours in a makeup chair, but for good reason, as he is so breathtakingly realistic and impeccably perfected that one almost wonders what the special effects crew did with his skin. With that, the film conducts itself in a very straight-forward, minimalist manner, which could be the most disappointing element of all because the film walks with its concept rather than letting it run on its own. We watch things that play out to what we expect and nothing really more. That isn't necessarily such a hefty criticism, however, seeing as the entire cast is, for one, thoroughly capable at acting in a low-key fashion, and secondly, the makeup and special effects work is so fascinating to view. Aston's methodical storytelling, reliant predominately on dreamlike pacing and narration, makes for a strangely calming, almost reassuring aesthetic to an already deranged piece of work that is effectively defies categorization in every regard. He Took His Skin Off for Me shows just how far someone in a relationship will go to express their feelings and affection to the one they love, even if the action doesn't make much sense or liable to be met with perplexing stares and such from others. - Steve Pulaski
Directed by Ben Aston. Starring: Sebastian Armesto, Anna Maguire