Fantasia 2018: Cold Skin

A man is stationed on an island inhabited by amphibious creatures in Cold Skin. In the fall of 1914, a young man (David Oakes) sails to an isolated island in the Antarctic to survey the weather. The only other person on the island is the crazed lighthouse keeper Gruner (Ray Stevenson), who is less than welcoming to the young weather officer. However, the man is forced to take shelter with Gruner when he finds out the island is swarmed at night by blue skinned amphibious creatures nicknamed “toads.”

Cold Skin is a horror-tinged drama from director Xavier Gens, based on the novel by Albert Sánchez Piñol. The story focuses on a young weather officer, nicknamed “Friend” by Gruner, who arrives at an isolated island in the Antarctic for a 12 month post. However, it isn’t long until Friend is forced out of his cabin by nightly creature attacks and is forced to stay with Gruner in his lighthouse, who happens to have a female creature named Aneris (Aura Garrido) as a companion. As the months go by, Friend begins to question who the real monsters are.

Cold Skin is a beautiful shot, yet somewhat slow paced film that can be interpreted somewhat as a parable about colonialism and attacking those who are different than you. Gruner is hell bent on exterminating the “toads,” even though he is well aware that he is the enemy in the situation. At the same time, Friend’s observation of Aneris shows that these creatures aren’t just mindless killing machines. However, Cold Skin is probably a film that will end up being unfavorably compared to The Shape of Water, with both ending up having similar themes. That said, the film also somewhat stands on its own, even though it is quite dull in parts.