Cold in July (2014) Directed by Jim Mickle. With Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard and Don Johnson.
Based on a novel of the same name, by author Joe R. Lansdale, Cold in July is a twisty, grindhouse infused crime/revenge thriller set in Texas in 1989. The film is directed by Jim Mickle, and stars Dexter’s Michael C. Hall as an everyday guy, plunged into an unfortunate set of circumstances, after his family home is broken into one night.
Exploring how the plot develops in a film like Cold in July, would only serve to undermine the experience of seeing the it for the first time. Some films, particularly thrillers with multiple twists, are best left to do their work. However, outside of the fine intricacies of the story, this is a very accomplished looking film from Mickle, with eye-catching photography by Ryan Samul. It also boasts three good performances, including Don Johnson in a fun, scene stealing role that brings a welcome touch of irreverence.
As mentioned, the film dips its toe into exploitation waters, exploring violent themes of revenge and redemption surrounding paternal love, amid grave digging, corrupt cops, pornographic VHS tapes and a variety of plot twists. Occasionally, it surrenders to modern mainstream convention, for example the now obligatory pre-action slow motion shot of our stern-faced heroes in sunglasses, walking into combat with all manner of pump action and automatic weapons. Sigh.
These are minor niggles, though, and for the duration, Cold in July is more than just a serviceable thriller, thanks to engaging central performances fused with stylish photography and an atmospheric electro soundtrack by Jeff Grace. 3.5/5