After playing good-guy serial killer Dexter Morgan for seven years, Michael C. Hall is certainly ready for a change. He’s currently starring in the Broadway dark comedy The Realistic Joneses, but you know what that stage play doesn’t have? A mullet, which is precisely what Hall’s sporting in his next movie, Cold in July, as you’ll see in the film’s first trailer.
And it’s not at all corny or embarrassing. I was able to attend an advance Cold in July screening last week, and I’ll just say this: It’s easily one of the best movies I’ve seen in 2014 so far. Something of a dark comedy itself, Cold in July is wholly an ‘80s-infused blast of neo-noir excellence.
Set in South Texas, 1989, it’s an adaptation of the great pulp novelist Joe R. Lansdale’s novel of the same name, about a friendly, blue-collar family man named Richard Dane (Hall) who, panicked, shoots a burglar to death in his living room late one night. It doesn’t take long for the deceased criminal’s old, grizzled ex-con of a father (Sam Shepard) to begin terrorizing Dane, his wife (Vinessa Shaw) and their young son, which in turn leads to Houston private eye Jim Bob (an on-fire Don Johnson) coming to town and really shaking things up.
Michael C. Hall’s leading man presence will definitely bring Cold in July lots of attention, and deservedly so—in a performance that’s much different than his Dexter work, Hall nails Dane’s endearing mix of in-over-his-head fragility and family-protecting bravery. But Cold in July’s real star is its director/co-writer, Jim Mickle, one of the genre world’s most promising young filmmakers. Mickle, always aided by his writing partner Nick Damici, keeps getting better with each new film. Following the entertaining though somewhat derivative ‘zombie movie by way of humans turning into rats’ horror flick Mulberry Street, Mickle stepped his game up immensely with the stunning 2011 vampire road-trip drama Stake Land; and last year, Mickle topped Stake Land with the dynamite cannibal horror-minded family drama We are What We Are.
Cold in July, though, is Mickle’s best movie yet, a tightly constructed, strongly acted gem complete with a badass, ‘80s-John-Carpenter-esque synthesizer score. Get a taste of it for yourselves in the trailer above.
The film opens in theaters and debuts on VOD on May 23.