Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Fantasia Film Festival 2018: COLD SKIN review

Running Time: 1hr 48min
Release Date: July 15, 2018 (Fantasia Fest)
Written by: Jesus Olmo and Eron Sheean (screenplay), Albert Sanchez Pinol (novel)
Directed by: Xavier Gens

Review by: Stacey

I think what initially drew me to wanting to see Xavier Gen's adaptation of the novel, Cold Skin, was the poster art above. Check that cool shit out. Then the plot synopsis got me; if it takes place near the Arctic and involves creatures I'm immediately thrown into John Carpenter's The Thing and am all in. Cold Skin isn't as balls out and gross as the Carpenter classic and unfortunately, it's not going to be as memorable either.

Based off of Albert Sanchez Pinol's '02 novel of the same name, the film follows Friend (David Oakes) who takes a position as a weather observer on a remote island near the Arctic Circle. Also on the island is the caretaker of the lighthouse, Gruner (Ray Stevenson), who knows what deadly secrets inhabit the island. Soon after Friend arrives, he realizes that every night mysterious creatures emerge from the ocean to attack the lighthouse.

Cold Skin tends to focus on the dramatics of the story rather than the creatures, even though that's really a major part of the movie. Sure the creatures are the reason for the drama, but it's less about the attacks and more about Friend, Gruner, and their relationship with a female creature that Gruner has kept as a pet/sex slave who he is abusive to. Of course, Friend begins to grow close to the creature (who Gruner nicknames Aneris), which causes strain among them all in the watchtower.

I imagine the locale (IMDB says Spain and Iceland) was already insanely beautiful, but with the work of cinematographer Daniel Aranyo, the movie took the scenery to a level that made me want to visit the island, even if it was infested by deadly creatures and gave you a real feeling of isolation. The CGI of the creatures was something to be appreciated as well.

The nighttime scenes when the creatures would attack the watchtower were probably the best part of the movie and mostly because it was the only time any real action and semblance of horror was taking place. That said, the action scenes were great and the fighting between the creatures and the humans was violent and bloody and fun.

Now, I took some issues with the pacing because I'm not going to lie, I fell asleep somewhere in the halfway point both times I viewed it so I had to do a little rewind action to catch up on what I missed and really, it wasn't a WHOLE lot. It kind of just followed what the rest of the movie had already done: attacks by the creatures, Gruner being a dick, Friend bonding with Aneris, nothing intensely exciting.

I feel like the major complaint with Cold Skin is going to be the story. There were plot holes, there wasn't enough backstory, and the ending left a lot to be desired. Now, granted, I never read the book so maybe there's more that happens in the story than the movie showed but that shouldn't even be a thing that needs to happen. With a little more exposition, we could have had a great movie on our hands.

I'm not sure that this one is going to be well-received by many for a number of reasons (especially those looking for something a bit more "horror"-ish), but I can say that I was able to find bits and pieces that I enjoyed and won't totally write the whole thing off based on the parts that I didn't like. However, if you feel like you can look past its flaws and enjoy it for its beautiful scenery alone, maybe you won't feel like it's all a total loss.


Check out the trailer below!

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