Cold Skin | xavier gens | jesus olmo | eron sheean | ray stevenson | david oakes | aura garrido | creature | creatures | monster | monsters | isolated | adventure | sci-fi | sci fi | thriller | spain | france | based on | novel | albert sanchez pinol | lovecraftian
Film: Cold Skin
Director: Xavier Gens
Writer: Jesús Olmo and Eron Sheean
Starring: Ray Stevenson, David Oakes and Aura Garrido
This film I heard about from a podcast I listen to regularly. It actually made their year end list of 2018, so I was quite intrigued to check this film out. The official synopsis is in 1914, a young man arrives at a remote island near the Antarctic Circle to take the post of weather observer only to find himself trapped in a watchtower besieged by deadly creatures.
As the synopsis states, the young man, who is credited as Friend (David Oakes), arrives on the island. He is accompanied by the captain as they search for the man that he is taking over for. They decide to go to the lighthouse where they meet Gruner (Ray Stevenson). He is out of it and doesn’t really respond to the questions being asked. All they really get out of him is the previous man who was working Friend’s position died of typhoid fever. Friend decides he will remain on the island, against the recommendations of the captain.
This is kind of interesting because we see him settling in. He brought many books and we get the idea that he is fleeing from something coming to this isolated island. One thing that really struck me was that he has a copy of Dante’s Inferno. I kind of took this that he is putting himself in his own purgatory.
That night he is attacked by something. We see that it isn’t human and he hides in the cellar from it. The next day he goes exploring and comes across one of these creatures. It is played by Aura Garrido. We see that it is kind of a mixture being a human and a fish. He almost kills it, but he is stopped by Gruner.
Back at the house he is staying in, Friend builds up the defenses around it. Part of this is ironic that he creates a wall of flames and actually burns his copy of Dante’s Inferno. He is attacked again and barely survives. He does manage to burn part of his house down.
He seeks shelter with Gruner. He is forced to abide by his rules in order to stay there. Together they bring order to their lives as they prepare each day for the attacks that happen at night by these creatures. Friend also learns more about these creatures through his interactions with Aneris, the name of the one that follows Gruner.
I have to say that I thought this story was quite interesting. What I really liked about it is that we have two different types of men who have taken their posts to flee from something in their lives. There is an interesting reveal about Gruner that actually made me feel sorry for him. I thought that was a good touch, because he is pretty horrible for a good portion of the film. This reveal gives him some humanity. Part of it is that he has hardened himself over his time on the island. He doesn’t want to leave and doesn’t want those around him to leave either. His isolation makes him crave human interaction.
There is also an interesting allegory here. Gruner treats Aneris like a dog. He even tells Friend that even if you kick a dog hard, it will still come back to its owner. He looks at this creature as less than a human, because it isn’t fully human. We see though through interactions between Aneris and Friend that they aren’t that different from us. Gruner does rape this creature, which just goes that he doesn’t feel it is a person. There is something quite interesting that happens at the end. I feel this film is trying to get across that even though we think others are less than us, we really need to get to know what is inside of them.
I do have to say that this film is paced pretty well. What I find interesting is that even though we are seeing them bring normalcy to their lives, they actually are bothered on the nights they aren’t attacked. Humans are creatures of habit and these things they are going against don’t just attack every day. There is somewhat of a strategy they have. I thought the ending of was good and the revelation that we get. I thought it was perfect with what gets revealed not too long before it.
What was really a bright spot of the film was the acting. Stevenson is such a bastard, but the more we learn about the character, the more we see that life has beaten him down. There is also a part of this that is descending into madness due to the isolation and how long he’s been on the island. Oakes I thought was a great counterpoint to him. I like that the film is ambiguous about what he is fleeing from, but we see that he hasn’t completely given up on his humanity. Garrido I also thought was solid in this role. Hers is mostly facial expressions and body language, but I thought she brings her role to life.
Something else that was really good was the effects that were used. There was quite a bit of CGI, but it really didn’t bother me. They kept quite a bit of it to the shadows which I think is a good choice. I believe that we also get some practical effects which also looked good. I thought the look of both men as they descend into their own madness looked good as well. The film was shot beautifully and the choice of island was amazing looking.
Now with that said, I really enjoyed this film. I thought the story of humanity and how we treat those around us was good. This film also has a good touch of H.P. Lovecraft in the form of sea creatures. It also makes me wonder if some of the old maps and tales where they talk of things like this is kind of a basis. I thought the acting helps bring this film to life and the effects did as well. The pacing was good and we get a solid reveal near the end that really helped make even more sense. The score of the film really didn’t stand out, but it didn’t hurt it either. This film isn’t going to be for everyone, but I thought it was good. I would recommend giving this one a viewing.
My Rating: 8 out of 10