Cold Skin (2017)


Based on the 2002 Spanish novel, this film had quite a long development process before officially moving forward. At one point David Slade (30 Days of Night) was attached to direct with a 2010 production date set, but plans obviously fell through. French director Xavier Gens (Frontiers, Hitman, The Crucifixion) eventually took over helming duties and now it's finally here.

Set in 1914, the story follows actor David Oakes (The Borgias) as a man simply looking for a little solitude away from the big city, so he takes up the job as a "weather official" on a tiny remote island. His only neighbor is a cantankerous bearded lighthouse keeper named Gruner, played by Ray Stevenson (Thor), who wants nothing to do with him. Gruner also fails to warn him of what happens on the island at night, which the poor weatherman learns the hard way when his cabin is destroyed by strange creatures that come from the nearby ocean.

We soon learn that these creatures roam and attack anyone on the island every night for whatever reason. The two neighbors eventually team up in the lighthouse as they fend off these humanoid beings each and every night. They're relentless in their attack, never missing a night, no matter how many they lose in the battle. Meanwhile, Gruner happens to keep one of the female creatures as a pet, often treating her like a dog--one that he can also have sex with, as discovered by the weatherman (awkward).

Sadly that's essentially the whole movie, where the guys bicker at each other, fend off an attack, rinse and repeat. There's really not much more to it than that, which is weird, since it seemed like the story could've gone a number of different ways. In fact, early on it seemed as though some sort of romance angle would have developed between the weatherman and the creature, whom he felt sorry for, but that was never really explored. At least that would've offered a bit more character development, which the movie was severely lacking.

Next to that there are story elements that don't make much sense or are never really explained, like why the creatures attack in the first place and why only at night? The female roams around during the day, so clearly they're not afraid of the sun. And she's able to come and go as she pleases, so why does she willingly hang around Gruner when she's treated like his pet? Unless I missed something or we're supposed to come up with our own theories, the reasoning behind these questions aren't detailed.

Negative aside, I liked the period setting, the pacing is pretty good, and I dug the look of the creatures themselves. When focused on individual creatures, especially during close ups, you can tell that a lot of time and work went into the makeup and practical effects of these beings. Even the CG isn't entirely terrible, though since they only come out at night it's easier to hide the cheap effects, so I couldn't really tell much either way.

I wanted to really like this movie, but there just isn't a whole lot of substance here. It's nicely paced and the creatures are cool, but that's pretty much the extent of it. Had the characters been fleshed out and the story had more to it in general then maybe it could've been a great flick, but as it stands it's nothing more than a decent time waster, especially if you just want a simple creature feature.