Cold In July
Entertainingly oddball adaptation full of pulpy B-movie ingredients
You never quite know where you stand with Cold In July and that is a large part of its appeal. Director Jim Mickle has a track record built on twisted genre hybrids like vampire yarn Stake Land and cannibal family drama We Are What We Are. Cold In July throws all kinds of pulpy B-movie ingredients into the blender and invites us to taste the strange brew that emerges. What starts as an overly familiar Cape Fear-style family-in-jeopardy thriller suddenly goes all gun-totin' grindhouse Tarantino on us, complete with a game Don Johnson enjoying himself as Jim Bob, a pig farmer detective rustling up a tasty bacon sandwich at the drop of a stetson.
East Texas in 1989 is the setting for this dollop of Southern-fried gothic. Woken from sleep in the dead of night, mild-mannered store owner Richard Dane (Michael C Hall with a spot-on barnet) shoots dead an intruder. In coming to terms with his actions, he attends the funeral and puts his family in the firing line. There are shades of Cronenberg's A History Of Violence here. The victim's jailbird father Russel (Sam Shepard in menacing Magwitch mode) is a man of few words and clear intentions. Just when you think you have the measure of the plot and aren't overly excited, it springs some major surprises that elevate your expectations of what is to come.
Cold In July has the grimy look of something from the 1980s you should really be watching on an old VHS tape and the more melodramatic elements of the plot barely withstand close scrutiny as it heads towards a grand guignol bloodbath of an ending. The seasoning of black humour and the skills of all three actors combine to make this an entertainingly oddball adaptation of the Joe R Landsale novel.
General release from Fri 27 Jun.