UK Release Date: 27th June 2014
Runtime: 110 minutes
Director: Jim Mickle
Writer: Jim Mickle, Nick Damici
Starring: Michael C Hall, Sam Shepard, Don Johnson, Vinessa Shaw, Wyatt Russell
Synopsis: A suburban Texas father is plunged into a world of darkness and crime when he accidentally shoots dead an intruder in his home.
Between William Friedkin’s Killer Joe and the Coen Brothers’ Oscar-winning No Country For Old Men, the “Texas Noir” genre is really starting to spread its wings. Next up is Cold In July – an initially conventional home invasion thriller that morphs into something completely different and darker.
When he hears a noise late at night, Richard Dane (Michael C Hall) loads a pistol and accidentally discharges it into the head of the intruder. Unfortunately for him, the intruder was the son of a convict (Sam Shepard) who had just been released from prison. As the father threatens Dane’s family, he becomes involved in a criminal conspiracy that goes to dark places and involves grizzled investigator Jim Bob (Don Johnson).
Cold In July works as well as it does because it’s about as unpredictable as it could possibly have been. Every time it feels as if the narrative is about to take a turn for the conventional, director and co-writer Jim Mickle turns the film on its head to create something completely different. The opening grabs the audience by the scruff of the neck and Mickle just keeps shaking until the end credits roll.
| "Now? We bury that son of a bitch.”
Michael C Hall, best known as the uber-confident serial killer in TV drama Dexter, shines in a more vulnerable role here. His family man is believable and bewildered by the darkness unfolding around him. He transforms into someone more brutal and world-weary as the film continues, anchoring Cold In July with his emotive performance.
Sam Shepard and Don Johnson also find plenty to distinguish themselves with in their complex supporting roles, with Shepard shouldering a lot of the story’s heavy lifting in the third act.
Cold In July is sure-footed in how it deals with the dark layers of its unfolding storyline. It doesn’t pull any punches in its depiction of the pitch-black underworld it penetrates, crafting a truly shocking climax from its humble beginnings. The tone is grubby and macabre, establishing a universe that never allows the audience to sit back and get comfortable.
| "The cops are up to something. They used my family as bait and I want to know why."
Jim Mickle has produced a real gem with Cold In July. It’s taut, well-acted and utterly convincing in its portrayal of humanity’s dark heart. As “Texas Noir” continues to prosper, Mickle must be seen as one of the genre’s key proponents.
Pop or Poop?
Cold In July is an exquisitely crafted crime thriller, twisting and turning at every possible opportunity. The viewer is constantly disorientated as assumptions and loyalties change in the blink of an eye.
Michael C Hall and Sam Shepard give excellent performances, with Hall especially sending his character on a real journey away from the comfort of his home.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.