Review By Bears Fonte
Every year I get the privilege of covering Fantasia in Montreal, the largest genre Festival in North America, and certainly one of the most important. Usually I just enjoy a great number of screeners here in Austin, but every once in a while a film comes across my giant flat screen TV that causes intense disappointment that I’m stuck here and not watching glorious creepy cinematography on the big screen.
Xavier Gens film COLD SKIN has a lot going for it. First of all, it’s pure Lovecraft, and there are very few films made in that style despite it being basically the birth of Hollywood genre. Go back to the original Universal monster movies and you’ll see they all play out along lovecraftian lines. Set in the midst of World War I, Gen’s film also puts us in a time period where we were still discovering new things and didn’t necessarily have the technology to protect us. The world was a much more dangerous place then, and we were much more helpless. COLD SKIN finds a young man named ‘Friend’ looking to escape the world on a remote Antarctic Island, home to a single cabin and a lighthouse. The lighthouse, surrounded by traps and fortifications as if it were a medieval castle, is run by a shaggy curmudgeon by the name of Gruner. Friend soon finds they are not the only residents on this island as every night the lighthouse is assaulted by a horde of strange humanoid toads desperate to throw themselves on the lighthouse lamp. One of these toadoids Gruner has adopted, or at least invited into his home to live partially like a human. Fortunately for him, he also gets to have sex with her.
What’s actually missing from this film is mostly search and investigation. While the film really sets up the character as a sort of Darwin stand in, his searching is not really all that scientific. Nor is it an illuminating. Without any development in The Interlopers’ understanding of their hosts reluctantance, there is really no new territory for the film to explore other than the various ways they are going to kill these things and whether or not they want to leave the island. From a Lovecraftian point of view, the sense of man’s hopelessness in the face of assumed destruction really comes through. I just wanted a little bit more to carry the film through its running time.