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.
Cold In July is a thoroughly enjoyable pulpy thriller from US indie director Jim Mickle, following in the footsteps of debut ‘Mulberry Street’, ‘Stake Land’ and his remake of Mexican cannibal film ‘We Are What We Are’. The latter never got a UK release, however ‘Stake Land’, his second feature, was an excellent vampire film and the best of its kind since the Swedish classic ‘Let The Right One In’. I had high hopes for this film, with a solid cast of character actors and an intriguing premise – did it deliver? Partly. The main strength of this film is balanced between the excellent lead performances, and Mickle’s taut direction that builds the suspense and helps sell the twists. Michael C. Hall is expertly twitchy and nervous in the lead role, with Sam Shepard, Don Johnson and Nick Damici (who was the standout in ‘Stake Land’) all putting in strong performances.
It begins with a break in at Richard Dane’s (Hall) house which ends with the unarmed intruder being shot by Dane. Dane learns from the police that the intruder was a wanted criminal, and unfortunately for him, the intruder’s father (Shepard) has just been released from prison and is seeking vengeance. This plot itself could drive a strong thriller, but needless to say, not everything is as it seems and the story drives off in numerous directions, some inspired and some a little confusing. This is where I felt a little disappointed with the film – despite selling its twists really well, it doesn’t really explain them all that well and I was left with a lot more questions than answers by the end of the movie. The reason this doesn’t ruin the film is down to the excellent performances, and the lead trio of Hall, Shepard and Johnson sell the hell out of everything that happens and we’re constantly invested in their fates. I’m a massive Don Johnson fan, and needless to say he’s at his charismatic best here – the man just has a superb screen presence.
Overall, this is a well directed, exciting thriller with superb performances, but the muddling plot and lack of conviction for some characters actions prevents it from being truly brilliant.
Directed By: Jim Mickle
Starring: Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard, Nick Damici, Vinessa Shaw, Wyatt Russell and Don Johnson