Monday, August 8, 2016

Film Review: Cold in July (2014)

Cold in July (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"There is a sense of dread that really resonates with the audience..."

After killing an intruder in his home, Richard Dane (Michael C. Hall) finds himself and his family targeted by the burglar's father, Ben Russell (Sam Shepard)…

Cold in July is a bit complicated to explain, especially without spoilers. The film begins with the home invasion. Richard kills the intruder and it's deemed an act of self-defense by the sheriff. However, Ben Russell, the intruder's father, doesn't believe it makes a difference. So, the old man begins to harass Richard's family. Things become complicated when Richard begins to suspect the police have hidden something from him – he believes he's been accused of killing the wrong person. So, without spoiling more, the twists continue to pile on. It doesn't quite make this a bad story. It does, however, make it feel like you've been watching two entirely different films by the time you reach the ending, which was decent too.

I think that's this film's biggest issue: it feels inconsistent. The foundation is strong and the ideas are great. Each individual scene is also executed very well, especially during the first half. There is a sense of dread that really resonates with the audience - well, with me, at least. This dreadful atmosphere (dreadful in a good way) works well with the nail-biting suspense and strong drama. It does lose steam, though, and it's because it spends so much of its time trying to become something else. By the end, it's still a good movie, it just feels disjointed. The pacing can feel a bit off, too. One moment, you're moving at the speed of light; the next, you're crawling next to Anguish. (That's a reference to that film's dreadful pace. Dreadful in a bad way.)

The acting was great. Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard, and Don Johnson are fantastic. This cast works incredibly well together. The film looks and sounds great, too. The music was unique for its genre. It has a bit a retro-vibe to it, I suppose to match the 80s setting. I really liked it, though. (I'm listening to it while writing this review.) The film is written by Jim Mickie and Nick Damici; Mickie also directs. This film is based on a novel, which I am not familiar with. The writing could use some work, especially to hone and connect certain areas of the film. Otherwise, I thought the story was great and the direction was strong. Aside from it feeling disjointed, I actually really enjoyed where the film headed.

Overall, Cold in July is a suspenseful crime drama. It has a few flaws, but it was ultimately very entertaining. The first half of the film was incredible and it manages to stay great throughout its entire runtime. It's worth a rental for film fans and a purchase for fans of the genre. I have no idea if fans of the book will like it, though.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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