Cold in July marks the return of writer/director Jim Mickle to this years Sundance. He was previously here in 2013 with his critically well received film We Are What We Are. This year he returns with dramatic portrayal of murder and corruption in Texas with the stellar cast of Michael C. Hall, Don Johnson and Sam Shepard. With a strong sense of style, a few solid chuckles, some shocking twists, and a slow burn, this is a film for the audience looking for more substance with their action.

The Players:

  • Director: Jim Mickle
  • Screenwriters: Jim Mickle, Nick Damici
  • Producers: Linda Moran, René Bastian, Marie Savare de Laitre, Adam Folk
  • Cast: Michael C. Hall, Don Johnson, Sam Shepard, Vinessa Shaw, Nick Damici, Wyatt Russell

Sundance Synopsis:

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 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.

The Good:

  • The New, Old Action Film: This film brings something new to the classic style of filmmaking. The film feels like a homage to a classic action film, with a group of guys coming together, fancy cars, lots of booze, one liners, fist fights, gun fights and even Michael C. Hall with a mullet. It’s a Southern, modern homage to class action, but with some hard hitting twists that make the film relevant.
  • Tension: The film does a great job of establishing tension from the get-go. From a few good scares and unexpected turns, this film sets a gritty tone and has fun playing in it.
  • The Bait and Switch: We’ve seen good guys take on bad guys a million times in cinema, but what this film interesting is that it shows you how good and bad are merely a matter of perspective. Depending on what you know and what others know about you, you can be the good or bad guy, the hero or the monster. The important thing is that you make the right choices, and in doing that, you become something greater than the good guy or the bad guy.
  • The Trio: Michael C. Hall gives a vulnerable performance that gives this film heart. Sam Shepard is the bad-ass, hard edged villain with a secret. And Don Johnson steals all the laughs with his dry wit. So much fun.

The Bad:

  • Tone: All the good guy vs bad guy, tension and tone, somewhat gets put to the side for a good ol’ shoot um up ending, which may be fun, but didn’t entirely feel honest or justified. Yes, you want to see the pay-off, but so much of the add up started to feel out of character in the last act, which took away from that amazing harshness that the film set off with.


A modern portrayal of a the buddy action film gone by, with some great tension and lovely performances.

Rating: 6.5/10