Cold in July movie poster
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Cold in July
Cold in July movie poster

Cold in July Movie Review

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Dexter dons a mullet and kills a man in self defense in Cold in July, a low key thriller that offers a few twists and turns before concluding in routine fashion. The movie serves as a nice departure from the standard summer fare, though to say it's anything more than that would be an exaggeration.

Michael C. Hall stars as family man Richard Dane, who shoots a burglar dead in his home. But when the dead man's father (Sam Shepard) vows revenge, Richard is drawn into a much larger plot where no one can be trusted. Don Johnson stars as private detective Jim Bob--basically a redneck version of James Crockett.

Hall is fine in the lead role, though all of the actors tend to sink into the production rather than rise above it. There's nothing wrong with that, but Cold in July won't be heralded for its performances. Nonetheless, Shepard performs wonderfully, offering a mixture of somberness, grittiness and complexity that makes his character interesting and oddly likable.

The story, written by Nick Damici from a novel by Joe R. Lansdale, is the reason to watch; Cold in July builds upon itself, slowly shifting directions in unpredictable ways. Though the final outcome isn't particularly original, the journey to get there is.

Cold in July loses its edge a bit in the third act as truths are revealed—truths that are disturbing but have been done before in other movies—and the protagonists seek redemption. The problem is that the climax is essentially a bloody shootout, a strange conclusion given the film's overall nature and the fact that the lead isn't exactly the kind of guy you'd expect to end up in a shootout. The ending isn't bad; it's just routine.

Cold in July is an intriguing thriller that keeps you guessing, at least for a while, and for that reason alone the movie is worth seeing. At the same time, the movie is neither groundbreaking nor mindblowing; the filmmakers set out to make an understated movie and they accomplished that feat, for better or for worse.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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