|DVD Cold in July
Run time: 109 min
Director: Jim Mickle
Writers: Nick Damici, Joe R. Lansdale
Stars: Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard, Don Johnson
When a protective father meets a murderous ex-con, both need to deviate from the path they are on as they soon find themselves entangled in a downwards spiral of lies and violence while having to confront their own inner psyche.
|Plot Keywords: based on novel|
Country: USA, France
Release Date: 27 June 2014 (UK)
Opening Weekend: $65,000 (USA) (6 June 2014)
Gross: $414,623 (USA) (4 July 2014)
Cold In July marks the fourth and most mature feature for director Jim Mickle, bringing electric performances and palpable suspense to an otherwise unoriginal premise. What sets this film apart from other films like it, such as Cape Fear, is the performances. Michael C. Hall gives one hell of a performance, letting the audience see a vastly different side of him. He generates a leading man quality in this film that, in my opinion, he has never done before. From the straight-out-of-the-80s mullet, to the tight Wrangler jeans, Hall fits the mold of an ordinary man from small town Texas in the 80s and does so very subtly without us ever thinking to ourselves that this man was Dexter. As much as I liked Hall's performance in this film, Sam Shepard and Don Johnson steal the film. Without giving too much away, Shepard and Johnson are two of the seediest dirty characters not in a Rob Zombie film. Each scene between Shepard and Hall generates a palpable tension that would be difficult to do with any other actors in their parts, respectfully. The story is interesting from jump street, its a familiar type of story but it has so many great twists and turns that you can't help but fall in love with it. The score here is also immersing. It rings back to Blood Simple, or John Carpenter's Halloween. It really throws us right into 1989 and does so with such grace that it really needs some attention. Jim Mickle proves here that he is a director to be reckoned with. As a fan of his previous films, Stakeland and We Are What We Are, I was excited to see this film. However, walking out of Cold In July made me ecstatic to see what he does next. Overall, Cold In July is brutal, unrelenting backwoods mayhem with great performances and plot twists galore. It definitely lives up to the hype and I highly recommend it.
This dirty little piece of Texas pulp rides the fine line of art of trash with brilliant composure as its dark script teases you with how far it'll go. The seed is planted when an everyman kills an intruder in his home, and the story spins wildly out of control from there. The story moves forward at a brisk pace and never looks back. Sure that means there are as many holes as there are unanswered questions, but such is the case with pulp. You gotta live in the now, man. In the end, I'm still not sure how to process what I've seen, and I've gained no further insight or knowledge about myself, the world, or humanity. And I wouldn't have it any other way
"Sometimes the good guy wins."
Start with Cape Fear, then merge into Killer Joe with a side Touch of Evil, and you will have an inkling of how macabre and comical Cold In July can be. It touches most of the familiar neo-noir bases including being set in East Texas and in the '80's. Revenge is the name of this game–director Jim Mickle paces the suspense and blood just about right.
Richard Dane (Michael C. Hall) and his family experience a home invasion, for which Richard kills the intruder point blank. The murder is reasonable until the corpse's dad, Ben Russel (Sam Shepard, more laconic and bad than ever), shows up just out of prison to menace the Danes for the death of his son. Yet as usual in pulpy noir, not all is as it seems including the motives of the local law enforcers and the identity of the dead "son."
Add to the grimy mix the Dixie mafia, who produce snuff videos using young girls. Russel is affected because it involves his son (even bad guys have the blues.)
The revenge formula ramps up considerably and the film becomes gleefully unglued with the advent of Don Johnson's swaggering detective, Jim Bob. His red Caddy convertible with the steer horn on the grille and his florid outfits signal an out-sized noir character channeling Matthew McConaughey from Killer Joe with a touch of Orson Welles' evil south of the border. A serious pig farmer, Jim Bob is hilarious as the swashbuckling, cheesy hunter. But make no mistakehe can give physically as good as he gets with some impressive sleuth work to boot.
The center of the darkness is Richard, a seemingly solid citizen who has the ambiguous demons usually reserved for the noir hero (think of Bogey's characters). His strong revulsion at the murder passes into something less than that but more than just vigilantism. Anyway, the blood bath at the end is worth seeing for its noir excess and dark humor.
Very few characters in this delightful summer indie get out unscathed, and some indeed find July very cold.
Cold in July is a Texas neo-noir set in 1989. A man called Richard Dane kills an intruder in his home one night. The victim's dad subsequently turns up and starts hassling Dane and his family. The police get involved but things begin to take a turn for the unpredictable when it soon becomes apparent that the dead man isn't who he appears to be. This leads to a spiral of very dark secrets.
What makes this one work so well is a combination of a great trio of performances and the 80's retro styling. Of the former we have Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard and Don Johnson as a motley crew of sleuths bent on discovering the truth and ultimately meting out violent retribution. The three actors work well together in portraying their uneasy alliance. While the aforementioned 80's setting is great too. The soundtrack is a combination of some choice 80's hard rock and some neo-electro 80's styling synth music to score the film and build atmosphere. It works highly in the movie's favour and gives it a cool sheen while seeming entirely appropriate given the era depicted.
The story-line is a mixture of fairly familiar things you probably have encountered in these types of movies before and I'm not going to reveal too much of what lies ahead as it's best to go into these types of films with as little foreknowledge as possible. But it is the way that these standard elements have been presented on screen that makes them work so well, as well as the aforementioned acting and 80's setting. There are a few loose ends in the story and some aspects that you will require to suspend your disbelief at a little. But this is hardly a new thing when it comes to pulpy thrillers. The important thing is that Cold in July is a superior example of this kind of thing. It's very involving throughout and makes its generic material seem fresh, which is easier said than done.