Sunday, January 26 2014, 10:46 AM MST
Sundance 2014: Cold in July
3.5 out of 5 Stars
Director: Jim Mickle
Starring: Michael C. Hall, Don Johnson, Sam Shepard, Vinessa Shaw, Nick Damici, Wyatt Russell
Category: U.S. Dramatic
Recommended To: Anyone looking for a solid thriller with ’80s’ throwback sensibilities.
Synopsis: When Dane (Michael C. Hall) kills a burglar in his home he becomes the target of the victim’s father’s (Sam Shepard) rage.
Review: What I’ve always really liked about director Jim Mickle (We Are What We Are, Stake Land) is that he's able to do a lot with limited funds. His films always look better than other films with comparable budgets. He also knows how to make genre clichés work in a way that doesn't feel derivative. Here we think we're getting a basic home invasion thriller but the story changes and switches from one genre trope to another and then another and then another (certainly frequent collaborator Nick Damici and Joe R. Lansdale, who wrote the book this is based on, deserves his fair share of the credit as well). He doesn’t take us anywhere entirely new (there’s a nostalgic nod to the ’80s that echoes throughout the film), but Mickle handles the material in such a way that it still feels fresh. Michael C. Hall is quite good as the protagonist, but the film truly belongs to Sam Shepard’s unhinged supporting performance.
If you like gritty thrillers with a sense of nostalgia put Cold in July on your radar.
-Ryan Michael Painter