Cold in July
The page-to-screen adaptation of Joe R Lansdale’s book Cold in July is soon to hit UK cinema screens. Directed by Jim Mickle, auteur of the equally brilliant Transamerica and Stake Land, and starring the powerful Michael C Hall, anticipation was justifiably high. Cold in July tells the story of Richard Dane (Hall), a weak-natured family man, and the events that follow a violent break-in at his home, where one man is killed. Fans of the long-running television series Dexter, which features Hall, may be pleased to know that this film shares its violent bloodlust and wince-inducing tension.
Throwing us straight into horror, the film’s drama-thick first act is laden with prickly fear as we’re led through the Dane family’s burglary trauma and Richard’s anguish as he tries to cope with the repercussions of that night. Although somewhat clichéd, the beginning is thematically strong and executed without contrivance, appearing to set up the rest of the film well. However, this is unfortunately not the case, as Nick Damici’s script judders and jerks between genres and tone, resulting in a weak narrative spine and lack of momentum.
The main body of the film is crammed with the archetypal tension and plot twists of a thriller, albeit with sprinklings of comic relief, while the third act is pure action movie, inclusive of guns, brawn and blood. The consequences of such an amalgamation are implausible character arcs and a finale that harbours little relationship with the film’s origins.
Despite its disjointed nature, Cold in July is surprisingly strong in places. Shot wonderfully by cinematographer Ryan Samul and performed with gusto by the entire cast – notably Don Johnson playing gun-slinging private eye Jim Bob – we’re sadly left to rue what could have been. Mickle is a fantastic filmmaker and Cold in July is certainly no turkey, but surely a simpler, more structured execution would have delivered a more powerful punch.
Cold in July is released nationwide on 27th June 2014.
Watch the trailer for Cold in July here: