In the noir thriller "Cold in July," director Jim Mickle and his writing partner Nick Damici once again prove that "genre filmmaking" is nothing to apologize for. Based on Joe R. Londsdale's novel, the story begins when Richard Dane (Michael C. Hall) finds a burglar in his East Texas home, and in a moment of "stand your ground" nervousness shoots the intruder dead. Soon after, Richard and his wife Anne (Vinessa Shaw) and their young son are harassed by the dead burglar's father, Ben Randall (Sam Shepard). At first Richard trusts the police detective (played by Damici), but soon unearths some secrets that turn everything he knows upside-down. Mickle and Damici (who created a vampire apocalypse in "Stake Land" and a cannibalistic clan in last year's "We Are What We Are") turn the screws slowly but steadily, increasing the stakes to indescribable levels and bringing in a colorful P.I. (Don Johnson) for some needed humor. The movie's through-line is Hall, giving a powerful performance as Richard transforms gradually from accidental killer to bloody avenger.
Sean P. Means
"Cold in July" screens again at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival: Monday at 9:15 p.m. at the Salt Lake City Library Theatre; Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. at the Eccles Theatre, Park City; Thursday at 11:45 p.m. at the Library Center Theatre, Park City; and Saurday at 4:30 p.m. at the Redstone Cinema 7, Park City.