COLD SKIN **** Spain/France 2017 Dir: Xavier Gens 108 mins
An adaptation of Albert Sanchez Pinol’s novel of the same name. This is set in 1914, a young man is sent to a remote island out by the Antarctic Circle to become the islands weather observer. On arrival he discovers that the only other inhabitant is a crazy guy who lives in the lighthouse. The young man, who is only referred to as “friend” throughout, sets about sorting out his life on the island that he will call home for the next 12 months. Early into his stay in the depths of night his hut is viciously attacked by aggressive web footed sea creatures and he is forced to seek help and refuge from the mad man known as Gruner residing within the lighthouse.
Together they spend most of their nights battling with the creatures, dubbed “Toads” by Gruner, and their days fortifying the lighthouse and scavenging for food. Gruner has taken one of these Toads and keeps her like a domesticated pet/slave but also as his lover which he makes no attempt to hide from his house guest. Repulsed by Gruner’s behaviour yet unable to say anything about it for fear of being left to fend for himself, Friend keeps his distance yet secretly observes the captive toad he names Aneris and is fascinated by her as a species. Yet most nights they are viciously attacked by her kind and soon he begins to have an idea as to why . This is very compelling with a familiar yet engaging story, it’s multi layered characters are fascinating and a joy to watch. It has a very small cast with Ray Stevenson (Thor) as Gruner, David Oakes (The Borgias) as Friend and Aura Garrido (The Body) as Aneris as the three main characters. Aneris does not say a word throughout but her movement and personality are a great sight to witness. I enjoyed everything about this movie , the CGI effects are well done and the isolated grim setting and cinematography are spot on. I would liken this to Guillermo Del Toro’s THE SHAPE OF WATER at times. The creatures are very similar and in its own way shares a similar love story whilst revealing human nature at its cruellest. The similarities end there though. Having not read the book I do not know how true to the story this is but it has been met with some very encouraging reviews. I for one will be seeking out the book at some point. It is a well made creature feature that stands out as one of the better mermaid type movies in recent times.
Review by Sarah Budd