So begins a gruesome but uncommonly philosophical creature feature that name-checks Nietzsche and Charles Darwin between jump-scares, and hints at a Lovecraftian ambition that it never fully assumes for itself.
Popular on IndieWire. On that note, why is it that humanoid movie monsters are never the least bit fat?
MOVIE REVIEW: MEN VIE FOR A MONSTER IN “COLD SKIN”
For Xavier Gens, it feels more like a consequence of cut-rate, copy-and-paste computer effects. Anyway , Friend quickly figures out what happened to the last meteorologist who was stationed on this island, and moves in with Gruner in the hopes that the two of them might be able to join forces and sail away together. What Friend discovers, however, is that Gruner has no intention of leaving.
On the contrary, he wants to stay and kill every last one of the creatures.
Still, those virtues are enough to carry the film over the finish line, as Gens claws ever closer to crafting an experience that fulfills the full scope of his vision for it. On its surface, Cold Skin takes the Man Versus Nature narrative conflict to an extreme, as a young weather researcher at a remote island outpost discovers that surviving his yearlong assignment will require battling hordes of amphibious humanoids that emerge from the sea at night.
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Gruner hesitantly allows the young man to stay in the lighthouse, a perch from which the two of them can lay waste to the frogmen by the dozens, in exchange for such creature comforts as coffee and chocolate, along with some extra ammo. The film gets sidetracked in various schemes that the pair cook up to protect themselves, including using some old diving equipment to retrieve explosives from a nearby shipwreck.
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We see Gruner grow jealous as he watches the young man and the mascot spending more time together, but ultimately the conflict between the two men feels forced. But it does so aimlessly while straining credulity: Their interpersonal conflict feels more melodramatic than their desperate circumstances would allow.