Cold in July

Critics Consensus

Boasting plenty of twists, a suitably seedy tone, and a memorable supporting turn from Don Johnson, Cold in July proves an uncommonly rewarding thriller.

83%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 115

67%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 12,374
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Movie Info

How can a split-second decision change your life? While investigating noises in his house one balmy Texas night in 1989, Richard Dane puts a bullet in the brain of a low-life burglar, Freddy Russell. Although he's hailed as a small-town hero, Dane soon finds himself fearing for his family's safety when Freddy's ex-con father, Ben, rolls into town; hell-bent on revenge. However, not all is as it seems. Shortly after Dane kills the home intruder, his life begins to unravel into a dark underworld of corruption and violence. Twists and turns continue to pile up as the film reaches its inevitable destination: a gore-soaked dead end. Michael C. Hall brings a shell-shocked vulnerability to his portrayal of Dane that contrasts perfectly with the grizzled "badasses" portrayed by Sam Shepard and Don Johnson. Directed with an excellent eye for the visual poetry of noir, this pulpy, southern-fried mystery is a throwback to an older breed of action films; one where every punch and shotgun blast opens up both physical and spiritual wounds. Cold in July is hard to shake as an east Texas summer.(C) IFC

Cast

Michael C. Hall
as Richard Dane
Sam Shepard
as Ben Russell
Vinessa Shaw
as Anne Dane
Nick Damici
as Ray Price
Wyatt Russell
as Freddy Russell
Don Johnson
as Jim Bob
Brogan Hall
as Jordan Dane
Lanny Flaherty
as Jack Crow
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News & Interviews for Cold in July

Critic Reviews for Cold in July

All Critics (115) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (96) | Rotten (19)

Audience Reviews for Cold in July

  • Jun 05, 2016
    Jim Mickle once again proves why he is one of the strongest independent genre directors around with, really, what might be his best film yet with Cold in July. Stylistically speaking, this movie very much reminds me of Blue Ruin, also released in 2014. They just got the same type of tone and approach to its characters. But I think Blue Ruin is a little more simplistic. And I don't mean that as a bad thing, not at all, since Blue Ruin deals with how one little mistake can destroy the lives of two families. It was quite the disturbing story if you watched that film entirely. The difference is that Cold in July is a little more complicated. Perhaps that's not the most accurate word to describe this, but it's a movie that definitely keeps you guessing right until the very end. It's a film that does not play out the way you would originally imagine. First it comes across like more of a 'western' thriller with Sam Shepard's character, Ben, threatening Dane for killing his son in self-defense after a break-in. But, it turns out, that Dane didn't actually kill Ben's son and there's far more variables at play here than you originally expect. It moves onto figuring out why the cops wanted Ben dead and why they used Dane's family as bait. Then it becomes Ben's search for his son to reconnect with him after being out of his life for, basically, the entirety of it. He then calls in a detective friend who served with him in Korea in Jim Bob Luke, Don Johnson, and then it's basically figuring out where Ben's son is, since he's currently in the witness protection program for turning state's evidence against this mafia he used to belong to. When they do finally find Ben's son, or his house, they find out that this guy is into some pretty dark and horrific shit, which I'm not gonna spoil, wherein Ben decides that he's going to kill his son. Perhaps I've given too many details for the movie itself already, but I think it's relevant to the point that I could not have predicted, well I could have if I had read the novel it was based on, where this film was going at any point. And I think that's so much more rewarding, the way they find new twists and turns to keep the story fresh and exciting are really some of the best parts about this film, if not the best. The film is expertly put together, it's really well-written, the score is a really cool, synth-heavy one and the acting is damn good. I know a lot of praised was heaped upon Don Johnson for his performance, and it's well deserved, but I think Sam Shepard steals the film here. Michael C. Hall is also damn good, so no complaints on that front, at all. The film, really, deep down is about fathers and sons and exploring the relationships between them, whether the father is absentee or not. It doesn't, at any time, explicitly explore these themes, but they are very relevant to the overall narrative. And, of course, the climactic act itself is quite bloodied, as it promised to be. It definitely does not disappoint in the slightest. So yea, I thought this was a great genre movie. It's so much more than that though, but I think that's what gonna end up appealing to more people. The film definitely keeps you guessing right until the very end and, as a viewer, that's far more rewarding and enjoyable to me. I'd highly recommend it, it's on Netflix, so you can't really go wrong with this movie.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Jan 31, 2016
    For lack of better terminology, these dark, southern, noirish, dramas have become all the rage in Hollywood. Films like Winter's Bone, Joe, and Mud have been highly critically acclaimed and have come to define the 2010 decade in film, but where there is success, there are bound to be copycats, enter Cold In July. Whoever thought that Don Johnson would have any kind of chemistry with Dexter what so ever, must have been out of there mind, as right from the beginning, this film was doomed. A simple man kills a home invader and is stalked by the father of the man he killed. Obsessed with taking a life and wanting to know more about what led to this man become the person he's become, Dane (Michael C. Hall) and his team of misfits, stalk the family right back and uncover an even bigger mystery. While this story had potential, the writers thought it was too dark and decided to have some fun with it. Isn't that nice of them, to combine misplaced comic relief with actors who have no chemistry at all? Cold In July doesn't only lack chemistry but it also lacks focus. At times this film is as dark and serious as it gets, then just as quickly everyone is drunk and paling around, it just doesn't fit and it doesn't work. The whole genre of these films is dark, disparaging, and sometime disturbing. If their is any humor or positivity to be had, it typically occurs at the very end. Michael C. Hall pretty much has the same dry personality as Dexter, except with a family and a conscious, while Don Johnson is the psychopath who wants to hurt people and thinks it's funny. The bottom line is this film is just a mess of actors who don't belong with each other, characters who should never have gotten along, jumping between scenes that are the complete polar opposites of one another. I liked the story and there are a few interesting moments, but it's just isn't enough to carry the film.
    Todd S Super Reviewer
  • Jun 09, 2015
    A B horror film through and through, Cold in July never aims for an Academy award, yet provides enough guessing, enough twists, and enough intrigue to be a truly good thriller. In a rare example of a film that takes a completely different direction than you would think, we find small time family man Richard Dane unknowingly involved in a potentially deadly conspiracy, encompassing some of the most unlikely, and unseemly, characters you want to meet. It's a methodical film, it takes a while to build, and yet it never loses us. The tension is felt throughout, and its major plot points, though surprising, never feel cheap or inorganic to what came before it. We are entreated to good performances by class A character actors, such as the venerable Sam Shepard. Director Jim Mickle guides the smartly penned film to be an effective, well-executed ride. A fine genre piece. 3.5/5 Stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 30, 2014
    Cold in July offers dark twists and turns throughout, and though it stumbles a few times, we're too engaged to care.
    Eddie C Super Reviewer

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