Let’s get this out of the way: For those of you few horror junkies that do not subscribe to Shudder, the streaming service’s latest exclusive may not sell you on the experience, but for existing subscribers Cold Skin (2017) is a reminder of the unique joys that come with the service.
About Cold Skin
What is Cold Skin? Cold Skin is a period film about two men on an arctic island. It features a solitary lighthouse prepared for a siege, and the fish-woman that comes between the two leads. For anyone who has every read H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” and wondered what having sex with one of the Deep Ones is like, well, you get a glimpse of that in Cold Skin. The film, directed by Xavier Gens, is a visually stunning adaptation of the Spanish novel of the same name by Albert Sánchez Piñol. Originally produced and released for Spain, the film has a modern Hollywood sheen that is not recognizable as a foreign film, barring some questionable CGI in certain moments.
The film features two strong performances by David Oakes as Friend, a meteorologist who seeks isolation on the island, and Ray Stevenson as Gruner, the lighthouse keeper. Aura Garrido plays Aneris, the fish-woman. Of the three central performances, David Oaks, from The Borgias, is most interesting because of Tom Hiddleston-esque styling of his performance. On the other hand, the strongest performance, goes to Stevenson who exudes both menace and tragedy and you are never quite sure on what side of this spectrum he will end up at any given time.
The narrative is not revolutionary and feels very much like a strong short story. The twist around a certain character is not necessarily all that effective and fairly predictable. The film’s ending undercuts the menace of the fish-men, making them the least monstrous parts of the story. Despite this predictability, the film mostly succeeds, in it’s metaphor about the cruelty of man.
Verdict on Cold Skin?
Overall, Cold Skin is worth a watch if you are an existing Shudder subscriber, but it is not exactly a film worth subscribing for. If you enjoyed this review, please check out our reviews for other horror films.