Cold In July

Michael C. Hall plays a mulletted family man and devout Texan, circa 1989, which means when his wife wakes him up in the middle Michael C Hall Cold in Julyof the night because she heard a strange noise in the house, it’s his job to grope around for his bedside gun and tip-toe towards intruders. You always hope it’s just the cat, or a gusty tree branch, or water in the pipes, but when Richard finds a stranger in his living room, it’s a matter of mere heartbeats before that stranger’s brain is splattered on the ugly painting behind their ugly couch.

Richard feels awful. He didn’t really mean to kill anyone. The cops are quick to assure him that it was self-defense, and besides, the intruder is known to them, a criminal with an extensive rap sheet, no one worth being upset over. Except the dead criminal’s father (Sam Shepard) happens to disagree. He’s fresh out of prison himself, and his new project is stalking and threatening the young family of the man who just gunned down his son.

The cops are useless, of course. At first they brush Richard off, but when the threats become unignorable, they use a maneuver I can maxresdefaultonly hope is more Hollywood than handbook, and use the family as bait. Shit goes down and just when you think maybe Richard can go back to sleeping through the night, he discovers that the intruder he killed is likely not Sam Shepard’s son at all – but why would the cops deliberately misidentify him?

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? That’s right: Don Johnson in a tall white cowboy hat. He’s the only one who ccold%20in%20july%203an help us now!

And that’s where I lost the thread. This movie is gritty and seedy, but it may be too intent on delivering twists and curveballs for its own good. You get in deep with this one, and things keep going from bad to worse. They stir the plot, and it thickens accordingly, with lots of shifts in tone, imagesCA49WFS5sometimes going from noir to comedy and back again within a few lines of script. Richard is the one who’s supposed to steer us, the audience, through all of these changes, but it’s hard to keep making excuses for why he’d let himself get involved in this increasingly shady stuff, as a sidekick to a man who just minutes ago wanted to revenge-kill his whole family.

This movie has a lot to say about masculinity and though it’s set 30 years ago, in our house it’s still Sean’s job to go confront the things that go bump in the night. In other houses? Apparently 1 in 5 men are happy to send their wives down toinvestigating scary noises at night do their own investigating, with 25% of men willing to feign sleep in order to avoid the duty. Sean is not so lucky. If left to his own devices, he’d absolutely sleep blissfully through a home invasion, and possibly also a portal to hell tearing a thunderous opening right underneath his pillow, if I wasn’t there to forcefully shove him awake. I’m not much of a nervous nellie, and since I’m an killerinsomniac, I’m used to the moans and groans a home makes when it thinks its occupants are asleep. But I have woken up Sean and sent him down to “check things out.” And guess what? It’s never a baddie. And if I really thought it was, I’d never sacrifice my best guy. I’d also never want to be left alone! I have seen a Wes Craven before: safety in numbers. What’s the middle of the night protocol like in your house?

 

 

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23 thoughts on “Cold In July

  1. drhumpp

    I’ve been wanting to catch this one. I like the Lansdale novel it was based on and would like to see the Jim Bob character. He’s been in a few other books too.

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      1. drhumpp

        Lansdale’s one of my favorite writers. I remember loving the twist in the novel, so it’s interesting to see the people that commented here didn’t care for it in the movie.

        I’m also looking forward to his Hap & Leonard series.

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  2. Carrie Rubin

    I haven’t seen Michael C Hall in anything since Dexter, which is one of my favorite TV shows, so I might have to see this just for him. But sporting a mullet? Well, that might be the scariest thing of all in the film.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Yes, Sean had trouble placing him at first! Actually, the movie looks gritty and convincingly like something from the 80s, I had to double check the year, but it’s indeed 2014.

      Liked by 1 person

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  3. fragglerocking

    Haha I’ll put it on the miss list for having a daft plot though I do like Mr.Hall. My hubby does night shift 1 week in 6 and I sleep with a very heavy glass candlestick under his pillow just in case 🙂

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  4. calensariel

    Haven’t heard of this one. Not likely to see it. I AM a nervous Nellie. Had night terrors growing up. Drollery would get up. We keep a handgun in the bedroom, but more likely he would grab the weighted practice golf swing thingy we keep behind the bedroom door. That sucker would do some serious damage if you hit someone anywhere with it!

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    1. Jay Post author

      The only weapon I keep by my bed is my cell phone. I hope I wouldn’t throw it though. It’s probably more useful for calling for help. Or live-tweeting my perpetrator.

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  5. filmfunkel

    Ugh I can’t remember the title, but a prisoner escapes, breaks into a home, and ties up the man and his wife. He then says, having been in prison, he doesn’t care which of them shares the bed with him so he’d let them choose…

    Would that also count as a duty Sean would have to shoulder?

    (This is one of those comments where all the dry humor of my tone gets stripped away by the impersonal text. Try and imagine Woody Allen asking it.)

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    1. Jay Post author

      Oh man, your Woody Allen bit made me almost spit! Oddly enough, we haven’t really talked over that scenario, but I’ll put it on our list for discussion. we do have a long plane ride coming up, and I’m sure our seat mates would love to overhear the exchange. And I promise to do my best Woody Allen.

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  6. Jordan Dodd

    Great post Jay! I agree that this movie had too many turns and twists for its own good, though I still enjoyed it. Interesting what you say about checking out noises in the night. I live alone, I don’t know what I’d do without my dog letting me know if someone is near the house!

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    1. Jay Post author

      I have 4 dogs and their “alarm” goes off so often, I can’t take it seriously. To them, squirrels are dirty rotten intruders and I should get out of bed to inspect and drive off each and every one of them.

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  7. Mark Walker

    It has actually happened to me. Although, to be fair, it was my drunk neighbour trying his keys in the wrong door. That said, me bursting out and attacking him in my birthday suit made for awkward exchanges when we crossed paths every day afterwards.

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