Look At Our Facebook Page Look At Our Twitter Page Buy Our Books On Amazon Buy Our Books On Our Paypal Shop

Murder Slim Review: COLD IN JULY

Murder Slim Press's Reviews Murder Slim Press's Literary Film Reviews Cold In July Murder Slim's Reviews A to Z Murder Slim Press's Charles Bukowski and John Fante Reviews Murder Slim's Book Reviews Murder Slim Press's Outsiders Film Reviews Murder Slim's Crime and Sleaze Reviews Return to MurderSlim.com

Sometimes you have your temper your expectations of a movie. I first saw ASK THE DUST expecting a masterpiece and then sagged when it was just ok. Now I try to ignore the source material and the people involved, and just try to watch the movie on its individual merits.

I fucked that up with COLD IN JULY. From the minute COLD IN JULY was announced, my hopes were sky-high. It's based on an excellent Joe R. Lansdale book, it's made by a great up-and-coming director in Jim Mickle (from the superb STAKE LAND), and it's co-written by (and briefly stars) his hugely talented friend Nick Damici. Throw in a little bit of Dexter (Michael C. Hall), Sam Shepard and Don Johnson in hillbilly nutjob mode, and you'd think it'd be impossible to fuck things up.

Luckily, they don't fuck anything up. COLD IN JULY met my lofty expectations and showed the kind of classy movie you can make on a low budget.

COLD IN JULY happily shifts quickly from one genre to another. While that may be unsettling for some viewers, for Lansdale fans it's part of the appeal. The movie starts as a crime thriller, with Richard Dane (played by Hall) shooting an intruder and then wrestling with his guilt afterwards. Then we veer into comedy with loopy private investigator and pig farmer Jim Bob (a mainstay in the world of Lansdale's books) arriving in his red cadillac to look into matters. Then we sidle into horror with the gory resolution to the tale.

Sam Shepard (as the grumpy Ben) and Don Johnson (as Jim Bob) nail both of their characters, and Ann Dane (Vinessa Shaw) proves that Lansdale know how to write a strong female character in the lightest of strokes.

As with STAKE LAND, this isn't a dumb movie. STAKE LAND is a dual coming of age movie; with Mister realising what it takes to be a parent, and Martin realising what it takes to be a man. COLD IN JULY is also a masculine film; showing how different men deal with violence, guilt and responsibility. Can a person live with themselves after they've killed someone... and can they do that without knowing who the person truly was?

Mickle's camerawork is less stylish than in STAKE LAND and MULBERRY STREET, but he does a very solid job. Smooth tracks, medium close-ups and a beautifully subtle final shot. Interesting choice of music too... it's solely 80s' synth (a la DRIVE) to get us into the world of 80s' America. I kinda loved that too. Untimately, the only criticism I have is that the lighting looks too much like an episode of DEXTER instead of a movie, because it lacks richer shadows. But then I'm a picky bastard.

Lansdale, crime, horror, thriller fans... pay your moolah and watch this one. And thank goodness it's done well at the box office, because it means we'll be seeing more movies by a great writer... and by a great independent film-maker.

Review by Steve Hussy