Very atmospheric and immersive, Cold in July is a solid neo-noir thriller featuring one hell of a cast. Set in the eighties, it follows a man whose life starts spinning out of control after an unfortunate incident. And while for the first half an hour you might feel that the story is going nowhere, just stick with it. Things are about to become much more intriguing. First of all, I loved the attention to detail and the focus on things that we usually don’t see. I know that seeing someone cleaning their house after a murder is not very entertaining but that’s just life.
And it shows just how impactful one event can be, starting an avalanche of other events. Secondly, this is one of those “what if movies”. It puts you in the shoes of an ordinary citizen pushed into an extraordinary situation. And it also shows what would probably happen, with all the emotions and trauma that comes with such an event. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, so that’s the reason why I don’t want to go into details.
As I already mentioned, Cold in July starts as one thing and then, in the best tradition of noir movies, switches to a whole ‘nother thing. Hardcore, Night Moves and 8MM come to mind, although this is a much more vibrant movie. I wish it had a bit darker undertone but that’s just me. Michael C. Hall was great as Dane, sporting a pretty stylish mullet while Sam Shepard proved once again that he’s great at playing these brooding and masculine roles. I should also mention Don Johnson and Nick Damici, who also gave convincing performances. And while we’re dropping names, I recommend you check out Brawl in Cell Block 99, also starring Johnson.
It is the middle of the night and everybody is sleeping in the Dane residence. Richard and Ann are in one room and their young son in another. However, Ann hears something downstairs and wakes Richard to check out what was that noise. He grabs his gun and leaves their bed not knowing that his life is about to completely change.
This is where things get a bit trickier. There are a couple of plot holes and loose ends in the plot of this movie. Dane’s involvement, police schemes and other sub-plots are just abandoned in favor of the main story. As we’re slowly reaching the grand finale, you realize that this isn’t going to be one of those movies where every aspect of the story neatly fits together.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the bloody and quite violent finale. It’s just that I was expecting a couple of explanations. However, this should not deter you from watching Cold in July. This is a very immersive experience that will take you back to the south in the eighties. And all the twists should keep your attention.
Director: Jim Mickle
Writers: Nick Damici, Jim Mickle, Joe R. Lansdale
Cast: Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard, Don Johnson, Vinessa Shaw, Nick Damici, Brogan Hall, Rachel Zeiger-Haag
Fun Facts: Don Johnson didn’t read the novel and based his performance on people he knew.