Cold In July - Online Review

'At the centre, and key to working out a lot of what is going on here, is Michael C. Hall's emasculated Southern male, stuck in conversations with his wife about the fact that they have chosen to make the house a 'floral' pattern.'

Cold In July, like the shooting which kicks the film's plot off, is not what it first appears to be. If you think you are about to watch something similar to the film's first hour - a tense personal Horror/Thriller, pretty close to the home invasion sub genre on occasions - then think again. Jim Mickle's film is part Drive, part Southern Gothic nightmare, part male Action fantasy. It's blended together with the exactitude of a cocktail maker who has drunk too much of his own product but, bizarrely, it feels all the better for it, slurring its words as it switches genre and tone as regularly as you change gear on a Texan back road.

At the centre, and key to working out a lot of what is going on here, is Michael C. Hall's emasculated Southern male, stuck in conversations with his wife about the fact that they have chosen to make the house a 'floral' pattern. In the opening scenes, Hall's Richard Dane shoots dead an intruder in his floral home and is promptly told by several people that they were surprised he had it in him. In actual fact, the way the scene plays out has a level of genius, Dane only shooting the robber because of an ill-timed chime of his somewhat kitsch living room clock, part of Hall's early nineties nightmare, and therefore becoming a de facto hero by accident. If it wasn't so bleak and American it might have an air of Withnail's holiday to it.

The way the film develops from here at first follows somewhat conventional motifs, as the dead robber's father, a deadpan Sam Shepard, takes offence to Dane and his family in increasingly unsubtle ways. There is more lurking though, more that starts to seep out once Dane and Russel (Shepard) have a conversation and even more so when white-hatted Jim Bob (Don Johnson) arrives on a V10 chrome steed. Johnson, playing a light-hearted private eye with a good one-liner, lifts the tone to jocular, before Mickle attempts to plunge us back into the depths.

Not content with tonal and content shifts, Mickle indulges both Jeff Grace's score, which goes from piano solo to synth and back again, and the screenplay he co-wrote with regular collaborator Nick Damici, who also stars. There's just a few too many wisecracks for the film's dark good, though it is clear both Mickle and Damici can write, the pairing verifiably on a roll following Stake Land and We Are What We Are. Extremely fun even if that means, at times, it is excessively unbalanced.




Cold In July was playing on Blinkbox.


By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

No comments:

Post a comment