Cold Skin – Spain/France, 2017

‘We are never too far from those we hate’

Cold Skin is a 2017 Spanish-French science fiction horror feature film directed by Xavier Gens (The Crucifixion; The ABCs of Death, segment “X Is for XXL”; Frontier(s)) from a screenplay by Jesús Olmo (28 Weeks Later), based on the novel by Albert Sánchez Piñol. It stars David Oakes, Aura Garrido and Ray Stevenson. 

On the edge of the Antarctic Circle, in the years after World War I, a steam ship approaches a desolate island far from all shipping lanes. On board is a young man, on his way to assume the lonely post of weather observer, to live in solitude for a year at the end of the world.

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However, on shore he finds no trace of the man whom he has been sent to replace, just a deranged castaway who has witnessed a horror he refuses to name. The rest is forest, a deserted cabin, rocks, silence, and the surrounding sea. And then the night begins to fall…

Cold Skin is released in the USA by Samuel Goldwyn Films in movie houses, On Demand, and Digital on September 7, 2018.

Reviews:

“It is a more-than-solid film, one with echoing messages about humanity and understanding and dazzling scenery.  With only a couple jump scares punctuating its atmosphere, it’s well worth a watch if it’s available for those interesting in mild Lovecraftian horror or paranatural suspense.” Kyle Saubert, Allusions of Grandeur

“The dark textures and appeasing creatures feels like a work of art amidst the terror and destruction they bring with them and Gens is not afraid to show the death and destruction in its blood soaked glory. Starting as a horror and blending into a more stable drama of the nature of man, Cold Skin is a story of fear that will have you gripped from beginning to end.” Martyn Wakefield, BloodGuts UK Horror

Cold Skin loses tension when it tries to hammer home ideas on the inhumanity of man, adding touches of colonialism to Gruner’s quest for power on the island […] Gans likes to underline but he doesn’t need it, as the picture does just fine with cinematic storytelling, with elements of kink and infatuation keeping the viewing experience alive, while battle sequences are hypnotically chaotic.” Brian Orndorf, Blu-ray.com

“The sluggish pace may be a bit demanding for some, as well as the fact that it features only two, if pretty well-acted, actual characters, but Xavier Gen’s period monster movie still absorbs with its nostalgically old-fashioned story line about mythical sea creatures, also providing a few solid thrills here and there.” George Beremov, CineMarvellous!

“When Xavier Gens remembers to save some of the energy applied to frenzied CGI sequences though, he instills his movie with infectiously imaginative fiction.  It bears the weight of its printed page DNA in places it shouldn’t. Yet Cold Skin captures coldness, creepiness, and cerebral tension in amounts that equal enticing entertainment.” Ian Sedensky, Culture Crypt

“The most disappointing films are those with the potential to be incredible with minor alterations, and Cold Skin is a perfect example of that. Unfortunately, the film as a whole is not greater than the sum of its parts – parts that could otherwise be put together to create a true masterpiece.” Alejander Gonzalez, Dread Central

“The most ambitious, assured and accomplished work to date from Xavier Gens, Cold Skin is terrifying in places and heartbreaking in others. In the tradition of the Gothic, it twists familiar tropes into something altogether more disconcerting […] Cold Skin is a true genre masterpiece…” Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film

“Stevenson and Oakes, non-star British players, are excellent, with Oakes going from fresh-faced naif to bloodied, bearded semi-hermit, then opening up to new experiences which still drive him mad, and Stevenson living out the (overworked) opening Nietzsche quote (you know the one) by looking into the abyss and becoming the monster. It’s a bleak, rather thoughtful film with bursts of exciting, but grim action and Gens’ best to date.” The Kim Newman Web Site

“Just when does the hunter become the hunted? Or rather, when does the pacifist become the next aggressor? This theme is often explored in literature and pop culture cinema, in a myriad of ways. Gens nicely explores this theme in this film and to say too much would be considered major spoiler alert.” Ed Sum, 28 Days Later Analysis

“There’s certainly no shortage of shocks, jump scares and man on monster battles. However, there’s a lot more going on as well. The relationships between the three leads are an examination of what humanity means. And if being a member of the species Homo Sapiens has any bearing on whether one has the quality of humanity.” Jim Morazzini, Voices from the Balcony

Main cast and characters:

Ray Stevenson … Gruner
David Oakes … Friend
Aura Garrido … Aneris
Winslow M. Iwaki … Senegalese
John Benfield … Captain Axel
Ben Temple … Naval Official
Iván González … New Weather Official
Alejandro Rod … Portuguese
Julien Blaschke … Burley Russian
Damián Montesdeoca … Scotsman
Israel Bodero … Ship Crew Member #1
Roberto Rincón … Ship Crew Member #2

Filming locations:

Iceland
Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain

Trivia:

Director David Slade (30 Days of Night) was originally slated to direct.

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Categories: 2017, science fiction

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