Plot twists can be a vital tool in movies. But when they occur every 20 minutes and completely shift the focus each time, it causes a movie to fail. Such is true with “Cold in July,” a new film from director Jim Mickle.

After killing a home intruder, Richard Dane (Michael C. Hall) starts receiving threats from the intruder’s father. They soon find themselves entangled with a murderous rampage on a path of numerous questions, many left SUBMITTED - ‘Miami Vice' this isn't - Don Johnson (center) portrays the character ‘Jim Bob' in the movie ‘Cold in July,' a new film from director Jim Mickle.

To start off, the opening was lackluster at best. In a scene that could have set the right tone for the rest of the film, it was over-played and came off as disingenuous. The first thing that stood out was gas priced at a mere $1.09 a gallon. Those were the days.

The plot continues on a downward spiral. The characters degenerate as more is revealed, but it all is too dramatic without any substance to back it up. This effect is only intensified by the incessant desire to refocus any time the story makes headway. If you can’t pay attention long enough to process an entire film, “Cold in July” might be for you, but it’s more irritating than anything else.

The fine details also lack. In a grave digging scene that really sets off another venture point in the plot, the grave is too shallow to be considered realistic. After five minutes of digging, the casket is revealed. Perhaps if there was more time spent on a single-story line, scenes could be flushed out instead of racing to the next twist.

Also irritating about the film is the lack of resolution. Once something is made a focal point, it’s quickly bypassed never to be addressed again.

As for the acting, fans of Hall will be disappointed. It’s known he can portray dark, disturbed characters, but he appears jaded as the confused father encountering murder for the first time. Don Johnson does an okay job as Jim Bob, a seemingly renegade private eye, but not enough to stand out from the overwhelming disappointment.

“Cold in July” is truly a mediocre attempt.

Contract Publishing

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