Movie Review: Cold in July (2014)

A hard edged pulp thriller with brutal, character driven plot

COLD IN JULY: Describes itself as a pulp thriller.  It is a phenomenal movie.  Sublime acting from Michael C. Hall (Dexter) who plays an awkward, nerdy family guy running a picture framing business in a small town in Texas. It is 1989 and he’s there with mullet plus bad tash in white T-shirt and jeans. Something bad happens and his life takes a brief lurch towards an edge of darkness; there’s a stranger in town who looks set to make his life hard and horrible… I am watching this, enjoying it, but thinking: “Oh, this is going to be like Cape Fear…. suspecting the storyline will go something like: the hero leads the bad man out to his father’s cabin in the woods, they stalk each other and then there’s going to be a showdown.”

Except…

The movie then takes an abrupt sharp left turn. (NO SPOILERS HERE). The story tilts up onto two wheels, so you’re sitting forward muttering: what the hell?  Where is this going?  It is brilliant!

Cold in July (2014) movie review by David J Rodger - a hard edged cool as they come thriller Michael C Hall, Sam Shepard and Don Johnson

Based on the novel by Joe R. Lansdale, it was adapted for screen by Nick Damici and Jim Mickle (who also Directed).  They tease you with little hooks and you start trying to second guess where it is really taking you.  Don Johnson comes in like a bolt of lightening, fantastic character that ignites reactions amongst the other players in the story.  In one way the story is simplistic, once you get down to what’s really going on.  It has a true feeling; brutal reality delivered with a relentless momentum once the characters set themselves the task of doing what they feel needs to be done.  The characters drive the story.

There are several scenes where something terrible happens to a character, and the camera sweeps away, focuses on some irrelevant yet highly poignant moment… and it is like you’re there, when you have had a shock and suddenly every moment takes on more resolution and everything from the breeze, to the scattering of leaves, to the way light reflects on water, takes on some significance.  You’re aware of so much and yet your mind is numb.

Don Johnson is the gregarious hilarious and no holds get-it-done private investigator in Cold in July (2014)

Don Johnson is the gregarious no holds get-it-done private investigator

What really rocked me about this movie is the soundtrack by Jeff Grace.  There’s a heavy influence from John Carpenter’s The Fog: moody and sinister with Moogs and Rolands.  There’s a couple of 80s rock ballads going on that just fit the scenes perfectly.

Here’s a sample via YouTube

IMDB

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If you like hard-edged thrillers, then you’ll love the novel Iron Man Project.

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