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Cold In July – Review


Release Date: 27 June 2014
Director: Jim Mickle
Writer: Nick Damici - Jim Mickle - [Screenplay] - Joe R. Lansdale [Novel]
Cast: Michael C. Hall - Sam Shepard - Don Johnson



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Posted January 19, 2015 by

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Cold in July Review:

I must warn the reader right now : as thorough as I might usually be in not spoiling the movies I’m reviewing, it will be here impossible to do so. As unbelievable as it is, even the trailers were made in a way not to really disclose the whole story that is ‘Cold in July’ : thus won’t I be able to speak about this film and not spoil it, even though I will try to be as moderate as possible. So, yes, first surprise, being usually fed with trailers that reveals the plot through and through, the fourth film directed by Jim Mickle (‘We are what we are’, ‘Stake Land’, ‘Mulberry Street’) is a legitimate surprise, in the way that you couldn’t be expecting what is happening after the first third of the story, and for that, I must take my hat off.

We meet Richard (Michael C. Hall from the TV Shows ‘Dexter’ and ‘Six Feet Under’, of course, but also ‘Gamer’ and ‘Paycheck’) awaken in the middle of the night by his wife Ann (Vinessa Shaw, from ‘Two Lovers’, ‘3:10 to Yuma’, ‘Eyes Wide Shut’) which believed to have heard a sound in the house. Richard nervously loads his gun, checks on his son Jordan, and run across the burglar in the living-room, before shooting him down with one straight bullet to the head. The Police Department, through the voice and presence of Officer Ray Price (performed by Nick Damici, involved in the scripting of the film and all of those directed by Mickle) is confident that the burglar is the infamous Freddy Russell, known for many misfits in the state. Ray urges Richard to take it easy, the situation being obviously a matter of self-defense. Richard remains however with a feeling of guilt that, did he hoped, attending to the funeral of the burglar would ease a bit. The only problem was that Freddy’s dad, Ben, (Sam Sheppard, whom I don’t think is necessary to introduce you to) was here too, released himself from prison for the occasion. Ben plays nice but is clearly threatening towards Richard, who asks the police for protection for his family. And that is all that is shown through the trailers, so could we be expecting a simple revenge-like story. It is not, and I will reveal here the first of the many twists the film contains.

Ben manages to enter his home and inside Jordan’s room, but escapes by the window into the woods near-by when Richard chases him. Finally the Police arrest him and send him back in jail, while, in the meantime Richard is being officially discharges for the killing of Freddy Russel. Out of curiosity, his eyes run upon the billboard where all the wanted felons are displayed, up to finding the notice concerning Freddy Russell. The thing is, the man on the notice is not the man he shot down, and despite of Richard’s concerns for this fact, Ray put it on the shock and the stress Richard stood himself in. Back home, Richard couldn’t sleep, decides to call Ray again to speak his mind about the situation, but Ray roughly tells him to forget about it. Finally Richard decided, in the middle of the night, to go and confront Ray. And what was his surprise when, parking his car next to the station, he saw Ray and another policeman handcuffing Ben and putting him in a car… So why is Ben here, at night, when he was supposed to be send back to jail, like Ray said Richard a few hours before ?

A first twist. It is almost sad to have to wait for this first twist to begin to see an interest in the film : personally, up to this point, I really got bored. It’s a good thing that the rest of the movie is so much more interesting, it would otherwise be a complete disaster. In this regard, the writing serves a rare purpose of surprising the viewers, as I mentioned before. It is also after this thirty first minutes that the actors reveal themselves to be actually very good, even though I’m still being disturbed by Michael C. Hall’s redneck style whiskers, and the fact that his involvement in the second part of the story is completely useless, to say the least. Spectacular, yes, but useless for the benefits of the story. I have not had the opportunity to read the novel that the film is based upon (written by Joe R. Lansdale), but the movie clearly has some taste from Joel Schumacher‘s ‘8mm’, from the viewing of which you can’t be unarmed. ‘Cold in July’ is not as pitiless as ‘8mm’ though, but it is a fair attempt performed by Jim Mickle to make a name for himself in the indie horizon. I’m ready to bet on the next piece he will offer us.


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Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 15.21.38

Theo Tessa
Freelance Contributor


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