A world away from his cold-blooded serial killer in Dexter, Michael C Hall plays a jittery everyman hero in Cold in July, a heart-stoppingly tense, cunningly twisty crime thriller adapted from a novel by cult author Joe R Lansdale.
The setting is 1989 small-town Texas, where one sweltering summer night meek family man Richard Dane gets up to investigate strange sounds in the home he shares with his wife (Vinessa Shaw) and young son (Brogan Hall). His fingers slipping on the trigger of his late father’s gun, he ends up accidentally shooting dead a would-be burglar.
The town hails him as a hero, but the traumatised Richard finds the backslapping acclaim far from welcome, and the discovery that the intruder was a wanted criminal fails to put his mind at rest. Then the dead man’s menacing ex-con father (Sam Shepard) turns up in town seeking vengeance…
At this point you would probably feel confident about guessing the rest of the story. Yet things don’t turn out as you might expect. Indeed, director Jim Mickle and screenwriter Nick Damici send the story down so many unforeseen, gore-soaked, body-strewn paths that you will be continually wrong footed.
Police corruption and organised crime are involved, and so is Don Johnson’s strutting private detective Jim Bob Luke (a recurring character in Lansdale’s novels), who turns up in a flashy red Cadillac and equally flashy cowboy outfit and provides a lively foil to Hall’s mullet-haired hero and Shepard’s glowering ex-con. The plot that ties them all together couldn’t be more gripping, but it is this trio of richly drawn, superbly acted characters that makes the film so compelling.
Certificate 15. Runtime 110 mins. Directors Jim Mickle.
Cold in July is showing on Sky Movies Premiere tonight at 10.15pm.
To activate the sound in the trailer: hold your cursor over the screen to reveal the control panel and click on the volume control in the bottom right-hand corner.