I’m a sucker for lighthouse yarns and channel flicking I found this dark, twisted tale the other night.

Set in 1914, around the time of the First Word War, Cold Skin tells the story of a young Englishman known only as Friend (David Oakes), who arrives on a remote island at the edge of the Arctic Circle to take up a post as weather observer.

He’s alone apart from a naked, bearded, wild-haired lighthouse keeper named Gruner (Ray Stevenson) who frankly looks to be a few fish fingers short of a packet.

It doesn’t take Friend long to figure out all is not quite as it should be on the island, when his cottage is attacked by howling, blood thirsty sea creatures after the sun goes down.

Alone and facing the prospect of a brutal death, he boards up the windows and doors of the cottage in preparation for the next onslaught — but is forced to flee after the place catches fire.

Friend seeks refuge with the lighthouse keeper, Gruner, who is at first reluctant to help the younger man.

It turns out Gruner is no stranger to the strange creatures and has fortified the lighthouse to withstand their nightly attacks which they repel with guns and dynamite.

In fact, we discover Gruner has befriended one of the female creatures (Aura Garrido), humanoid in form but with gills and webbed feet, who live in the ocean.

Later still, in a yuk moment, we find out he’s actually been engaging in sex with the creature, who seems to have limited intelligence.

Friend is a little taken aback by this turn of events to say the least,  but he’s got no time to do anything about it as the attacks become more frequent and frenzied.

As their situation becomes dire, they decide to dive on a wrecked ship off the point to retrieve some crates of dynamite that went down with the boat.

I won’t tell you what happens, suffice to say Cold Skin is no cheap horror flick.

Rather, it’s a lovingly filmed, thoughtful, low key production that is well worth a watch.

Shot on location in Lanzarote, part of the Canary Islands, it’s a French-Spanish co-production based on the 2002 novel of the same name by Albert Sánchez Piñol and was directed by Xavier Gens.

Cold Skin can be seen on Prime Video.


Time out score
Cold Skin lights up the night


Chris Riley has been a journalist for 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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