By Craig Singleton (Wigan, England)
An intense homage to 80s thrillers comes full force with this film adaptation of the novel of the same name. Directed by critically successful filmmaker Jim Mickle sees a dark night with married couple Richard and Ann Dane asleep in their house. Ann played by Vanessa Shaw wakes as she hears their window being smashed so she wakes Richard played by Michael C. Hall up. Richard grabs his gun and walks to the living room to find an intruder there. Startled, Richard opens fire onto the young man and accidentally kills him. Richard will soon find to regret his action as the man’s father, Ben Russell played by Sam Shepherd finds him and looks as though he wants revenge. All is not as it seems though.
I love thrillers that do their intention in keeping an audience on the edge of their seats and the plot alone can do this. The opening scene hits with a bang and sets the tone of what’s to come. The plot is not a predictable one as it is filled with great twists to keep the viewer in surprise. It is an ambitious plot as it needs to keep the viewer interested with only a limited amount of characters within the story.
The best aspect of the film is that it tries to keep itself grounded as best as it can. It doesn’t need a ten minute car chase or slow-motion gun shots and that’s the mark of a good director. Mickle creates the tension very well in the early scenes with Richard and Ben. Richard swears he didn’t murder his son, but Ben believes he did. As the story progresses, the thrills go to 11 as we are met with incredible sounds of electro. 2011’s slow-burn thriller Drive had a fantastic soundtrack with now iconic tracks and Cold in July has the same. It upped the ante to higher heights and gave me a wicked excitement which had me talking to the screen. The scores brought great flashbacks to great 80s films like the first Terminator for example.
Even though the cast are smaller in the social recognition, it is irrelevant as each actor performs their roles very well. I thought Michael C. Hall was great in the lead role. He’s a man that feels fear, buts he needs to push that aside to protect his family from danger. Also Shepherd was a knockout. His dark character wasn’t one-dimensional. As you get to know the character, a good depth is formed. Also there was a great turn from Don Johnson as a private eye detective who had charm and likeability in his role.
My score for the film is 87%. Lowest mark for pacing, highest for soundtrack. If you’re tired, this film will wake you back up with its twisting story and strong characters making it a solid mystery thriller. My only criticism is that it doesn’t keep its pace all the way through so some moments move on slowly, but it’s greatly set up scenes and a pumping sound.