Everyday family man Richard Dale (Michael C. Hall) shoots and kills a house intruder in self defence. The intruder’s father Russell (Sam Shepard) is fresh out of jail and wanting revenge. However through a series of dark events the two must put their hatred aside and work together as they uncover a world of lies and violence.
Going into Cold in July I had no idea what to expect. The trailers looked promising and its cast was more than inviting. So the film begins with Richard (Michael C Hall) inspecting a noise coming from downstairs. Armed, he makes his way to the living room and in a moment of panic he shoots and kills the assailant. Although he is conflicted, the assailant’s father Russell (Shepard) an ex-con just recently released from prison wants revenge. It is around this time when the tables turned and the rug was pulled out from under us. What I thought would be a revenge/protect family at all costs thriller, slowly turns into a tale of corruption and violence. Since all the synopses of the film states it already I might as well say it. Whoever was in Richard’s house was not Russell’s son and together, along with an old war buddy of Russell (Don Johnson) they embark on a journey to find what really is going on.
The film is based in the 1980s and director Jim Mickle makes sure the film looks and feels authentic. In fact it feels as if it were filmed in the 1980s for that matter. From Hall’s mullet, to the cheesy 80s music, even the slow John Carpenter-like wide angle camera tracking shots. Everyone here, cast and crew is on top of their game. I was drawn in to the film’s editing since it was paced well enough for us to get into these characters and you know, actually feel for them, something which is lacking as of late. As well as pacing the cinematography is top notch, using every camera trick in the book as well as sound and so on. Blend all these elements together and there are some truly frightening as well as heartfelt scenes in this movie.
As for the cast, the standout star here is Shepard as the ex-con Russel. At first I believed he would be the silent, stalker type but especially after the big(ish) reveal we witness a man on a downward spiral through regret and hopefully redemption. That’s not to say his co-stars come anywhere short. Michael C Hall has successfully distanced himself from his most iconic role, television’s lovable serial killer Dexter. He’s shy, meagre and not at all adept to killing. The film takes its time showing us that he really is conflicted with what he has done and is determined to set things right. Don Johnson as always is a joy to watch as Jim Bob who acts like a bridge between the two and as one who helps move the story along. I wish I could talk more about the third act but that would be outright sinful for as stated, this movie does take a vicious and dark turn, for the best. Its best moments though are when all three are together on screen.
Every now and then a small movie comes along that makes me fall in love with cinema all over again. This is one of them. Despite some spoilers I have given away in this review, this film will keep you guessing regardless.
Director: Jim Mickle
Starring: Michael C. Hall, Don Johnson, Sam Shephard
Running Time: 115 minutes
Release Date: 27th June