Cold Skin (2017) starring Ray Stevenson, David Oakes, Aura Garrido. Directed by Xavier Gens.
When someone described Cold Skin as Lovecraftian, I was sold. Add in Ray Stevenson on a secluded island living in a lighthouse and I couldn’t check this movie out fast enough. And that excitement lasted for quite a bit of the film.
The movie sports a strong first act. David Oakes gives a great performance as a man fleeing society, seeking the solitude of an island at the edge of the Antarctic Circle. His character is never given a name. Upon arriving at his lodge on the island, he’s besieged the first night by fish men that are out for blood. He manages to survive that first night by pulling from a deep well of resolve and resourcefulness.
Ray Stevenson’s Gruner is the only other man living on the island, the caretaker of the lighthouse. He’s a bit mental, quite floaty, but also gruff and angry. Gruner has fought off the hoards from the sea for a long time and the emotional cracks from it are widening by the day. He’s also managed to capture a female fish thing and domesticated it. He’s also banging it. Yup. We had two movies with fish bestiality in them in 2017. And one has a few Academy awards on the shelf.
Gruner and Friend, as he’s credited, must band together to survive. But solitude, constant fights for survival, and arguing over who gets to sleep with the amphibian could make anyone go a little crazy.
The location, cinematography, and acting are all top notch. Costumes and effects are all solid. Surprisingly, it’s the characters, not the actors, and the plot itself that fail the film. As I said earlier, if it’s described as Lovecraftian, I’m in. And this movie was no different. Unfortunately, inconsistencies with the characters lead to bigger questions with the story later on.
Friend is a bad ass early when facing the horde solo, yet crumbles under the pressure when combining forces with Gruner. The fish woman’s character gets extremely confusing in the third act. There are spoilers in there I won’t address, but her turn in the latter part of the film didn’t make much sense to me. All of this is a bit surprising considering the movie is based on an extremely popular novel, which I haven’t read, so I would have expected the narrative and character development to be a strength. I’m unsure of the changes between the novel and the film.
The biggest question I asked at the end was… why? And that why applies to all three characters’ actions and the major driving force of the plot.