Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Cold in July - film review

Cold in July is a film from last year which is based on a novel by Joe R. Lansdale. At first, it seems that the plot will follow fairly conventional lines, but soon it diverges from the predictable, and becomes increasingly intriguing and unorthodox. The result is a film that I found very watchable indeed.

Michael C. Hall plays Richard Dane, an ordinary guy who runs a picture framing business. One night he is woken by his wife, who has heard an intruder prowling around their home. Richard grabs his gun and shoots the man. The police tell him that the dead man was Frederick Russell, a wanted man whose father was also a career criminal. Richard is haunted by what he has done, and when he visits Russell's grave, he encounters the father, Ben, played with taciturn menace by Sam Shephard.

Richard is afraid that Ben intends to exact revenge by doing harm to his own son, and after initial scepticism, the local police are supportive. Ben enters the Danes' house, but escapes without harming the Danes' son, and Richard is told that he has left the area. But then Richard sees a picture of Frederick Russell - and his face is different from that of the man he shot. What on earth is going on?

The plot rapidly thickens, and the story takes a fresh turn when a private eye played by Don Johnson turns up on the scene. To say much more would be a spoiler, but I thought that Shephard and Johnson were terrific, and the story zips along in a satisfying, if quirky, way. I have a Lansdale novel on my shelves that I have yet to read, and this enjoyable film has encouraged me to promote it up the TBR list.


Graham Powell said...

Don Johnson's character also appears in Lansdale's Hap and Leonard series of books. Those are soon to become a TV series; I sure hope Johnson shows up in it, too.

Martin Edwards said...

He's an appealing actor, isn't he? Not a bad singer-songwriter, either.

Roger Allen said...

Lansdale also wrote the story behind Bubbba Ho-Tep, the best Elvis vs revived mummies film ever.