Cold in July
Cold in July
2015. Directed by Jim Mickle.
A one of kind southern neo-noir, Cold in July is brutal, low down dirty-alleyway cinema of the highest caliber.
It stars Michael C. Hall as Richard Dane, a 1980's Texas man who shoots an intruder in his home. Soon after the dead man's father arrives in town with vengeance in mind and Dane begins to suspect that the police are lying to him about the man he killed. What follows is a descent into the hell that is mankind's darker side.
Michael C. Hall delivers a great performance as a simple family man whose life is forever altered by the pull of the trigger. He is supported by Sam Shepard as the dead man's father. Rounding out the cast is Don Johnson, who's Vietnam vet detective absolutely steals the show.
The script, written by Jim Mickle and his long time collaborator Nick Damici (who has a cameo as the sheriff) is a stripped down examination of masculinity while also ruminating on the themes of brotherhood and friendship in post-Vietnam America. Some of the film's best moments are the calm between the storms where the heroic trio regroup at Johnson's character's pig farm to plan their next move. It's during these scenes the viewer is given the human side, the side worth fighting for.
The other side of the film has the feel of a dirty mattress. Ryan Samul's cinematography captures the underbelly of the Texas night by focusing on visceral scenes of violence coupled with the main trio's reactions to the evil around them. You're not just witnessing violent acts, you're party to the death of innocence and the rebirth of a warrior.
These themes are further strengthened by Jeff Grace's low key, but haunting score. This is a film about men driving through the blackness of the void trying to set right the mistakes of their past. Dynatron's Cosmo Black is also a standout of the soundtrack, a techno song that perfectly set's the tone for the looming showdown vibe that pervades the second half of the film.
Unforgiving in it's delivery and malignant in it's design, Cold in July is a film that begins as one thing, setting the rules and allowing the viewer to watch in comfort. The film then pulls off the blinders and changes everything halfway through, exposing the phantoms that lurk in the darkness just beyond our picket white fences. It's delivered so succinctly that you can't help but enjoy your time among the monsters, and those that hunt them