Gilbert Speaks on Xavier Gen’s ‘Cold Skin’

My daughter and I recently watched a film on Amazon Prime. It was such an unusual film that it had me up all night thinking about it. I am realizing that I’ve been gravitating more towards foreign films lately. Is it because of the writing, or because they don’t sugarcoat the plot? All I know is that Cold Skin was so well done, that I was determined to do a review for Biff Bam Pop.

Cold Skin

Cold Skin, which is directed by Xavier Gens and based on the 2002 Albert Sanchez Pinol novel, is a 2017 French-Spanish science fiction/horror film. The film, which stars David Oakes, Aura Garrido, Ray Stevenson, John Benfield, Ivan Gonzalez, Winslow Iwaki, and William Frater begins in 1914 with a young Englishman (David Oakes) traveling to a remote island at the southern tip of Antarctica to do research on the weather. The captain (John Benfield) of the ship is worried because the man that the young Englishman is to replace…is missing. The lighthouse caretaker, Gruner (Ray Stevenson) claims that the former meteorologist died from typhus.

Against the advice of the captain, the Englishman decides to stay until the captain returns in a year with a replacement. We realize that the young Englishman is seeking solitude from whatever sorrow or pain he has endured. Well, if it’s solitude he wants, that pleasant thought goes out the window on the Englishman’s first night. Creatures attack the cabin where the young man is living. Barely surviving his first night, thanks to a hidey spot in the cabin’s floor, the Englishman seeks answers and asylum from the Lighthouse keeper. Gruner refuses, and the Englishman is forced to spend another night in the cabin fighting off the creatures that come out of the sea.

It isn’t until the second night after the Englishman accidently burns down his cabin fighting away these creatures, that Gruner relents and allows the Englishman to stay at the lighthouse. Gruner is not a nice man and the only reason he allows the Englishman, who he nicknames “Friend” to stay is because Friend found guns and bullets in the hidey spot.

Gruner has been hiding a few secrets from Friend, but it isn’t long before Friend discovers one of the secrets when he sees that Gruner has a female amphibian creature as his pet/mistress. Gruner, who is not only physically but sexually abusive to the creature (Aura Garrido), tells Friend that he found the creature trapped in one of his nets when she was a baby.

Friend realizes what Gruner already knows the nightly attacks on the lighthouse are because the other sea people are trying to save the female. Her siren calls for help have these creatures risking their lives to save her. Friend and Gruner live a troubled coexistence together, fighting creatures at night, rebuilding defenses during the day. Friend gives the female creature a name. He calls her Aneris, and it isn’t long before they begin to bond together.


I remember going to our neighborhood movie theatre’s Saturday Creature Double Feature to see the 1954 film, Creature from the Black Lagoon, when I was about ten-year-old. My siblings holding one hand, and in the other…a brown bag holding our baloney sandwiches, as we walked the five city blocks to the theatre. The creature in Creature from the Black Lagoon was scary…but even at my young age, I knew that the creature loved the girl played by Julie Adams.  As an adult, I watched The Shape of Water, where the sexual attraction between the creature and the girl (Sally Hawkins) was addressed as a love story.

In Cold Skin, we have the more adult version of the Creature from the Black Lagoon whereas the sea people are intelligent, but dangerous, and the female creature is at the mercy of a brutal man. I have to say that this movie left an impression on me. I could not get it out of my head. Ray Stevenson was perfect for the part of Gruner, a bitter man who would not allow either Aneris or Friend to leave the island. And Aura Garrido, although she never speaks, holds us captive with her sorrowful expressions as she endures her life in captivity while yearning for her life in the sea.

The ending which I will not spoil for you, reveals Gruner’s true identity as well as what happens to both Aneris and Friend. I highly recommend this film. It is a true study on who the real monsters are in this world. Side note…it is mankind.

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