NZIFF Review - Cold In July
Dexter star Michael C Hall exchanges splatter and gore for the victim side of things in the synth drenched Cold In July.
He's Richard Dane, mulleted and mustachioed in East Texas in 1989 and who's awoken one night by the sounds of an intruder downstairs. Heading down to see what the commotion is and with a wife and child in the house, Dane lets off a single shot killing the intruder outright.
And he believes that's the end of his problems - with the law clearly on his side and the victim buried, there's nothing else left to worry about.
However, things get complicated for Dane when the burglar's father Ben (a softly spoken but menacing Sam Shepard) is paroled and comes looking for Dane...
Cold In July has an old school vibe about it in many ways - and that's not just the looks of the leads.
With its synth based score, and outfits, it feels like an 80s murky revenge thriller, with secrets of the town thrown in for good measure. But the mystery takes several twists and that's really where the strength of this film lies.
It becomes a greater film when Don Johnson shows up, as he brings an energy and skewed take on things that's needed after a minor slump - as the riddles unravel and the reasons are explained, it's clearer that this is more a film about the bonds which strengthen and divide families.
Director Jim Mickle delivers some tension filled scenes including a great jump moment during a home invasion that even though you've seen it coming delivers such a visceral punch, you don't recover straight away.
As the murkier aspects of Texas are explored, it builds to an explosive end that's really needed to help deliver on what was promised before. It's not as strong as it could be, but the trio's chemistry works well and guides you through the weaker parts of the narrative. It takes a while to get there and you are either on board or you're not, but Cold In July smacks you upside the head - just not in ways you'd quite expect it to.