Cold Skin follows a weather observer (known only as Friend) who is dropped on a remote island to run a 12-month long research campaign on the wind and sea. Friend arrives to find a mysterious man living in the lighthouse, but also nocturnal creatures that raid the island from the deep. What are these creatures? And who is Gruner?
Cold Skin Review
I was so excited to see Cold Skin on Shudder. I've come close on multiple occasions to renting it on Vudu, as the plot sounded so interesting and the film quality well done. The grappling with several elements of humanity is certainly engaging and the film quality holds up near-immaculately.
There was perhaps no horror movie that was more beautiful than this film in 2017/18. Nearly every shot is something that can be pulled, painted and hung on a wall. Combined with some mildly pretentious, but reasonably philosophical narration, the movie is a cinematic art piece. The characters are powerful, the creatures believable, and the setting feels like a real-life dark fantasy realm. I want to go to there.
Inevitably, the film's sometimes subtle approach to character development and motif leads to an ending that can be vague and unrewarding. Yet, I feel like it is fully graspable in the web of intrigue between our characters. The answers are on the screen, but if you want the explanation to every little action, you may need to watch it more than once. Or...maybe all this undead business has left my brain rotting and incapable of efficient attention to detail.
The film was everything I wanted it to be, even if it did feel like a blend of a mild take on The Descent and The Shape of Water. Yes, there is some relative overlap between this film and others, but it still presented itself in a unique way because of the three characters (yes, three).
It's a character study and expression of the edges of humanity, and perhaps also a twisted metaphor for war as well (as the film essentially takes place during the beginning stages/months of World War I).
This film is much easier to digest than director Xavier Gens' most notable films in The Divide and Frontier(s). I'd much sooner watch Cold Skin again than any of his other works. Despite a decent 108 minute runtime, the film never dragged, because days were full of intrigue and the nights were full of terror. It was good balance that only began to feel repetitive as the rhythm of the story ends. Then again, the rhythm inevitably feels like part of the point.
Cold Skin is an easy film to recommend for most horror fans and even some patrons outside of the genre that can handle a little bit of violence and disturbing concepts. Monster movies tend to be at their best when they play as a juxtaposition to the monsters of humanity. This film nails that.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 7/10
Horror Quality: 6/10
Film Quality: 8/10