In the opening scenes of the new ’80s-set thriller Cold in July, Michael C. Hall’s character shoots dead a burglar and then checks out his funeral. Did the man who played the serial killer Dexter and a funeral director on Six Feet Under think he was being pranked when he first read the screenplay? Not so much. As Hall says in the currently-on-stands Summer Movie Preview issue of Entertainment Weekly, “I’m often sent scripts that have some murderous or graveyard elements.”
Truth be told, this latest movie from the filmmaking duo of director-writer Jim Mickle (Stake Land, We Are What We Are) and actor-writer Nick Damici is very different from both of Hall’s TV shows. The actor stars as a frame store-owning everyman who finds himself in conflict with the dead perp’s father, played by Sam Shepard. Don Johnson, meanwhile, portrays a private eye-pig farmer (yes, you read that right), although the most memorable aspect to this adaptation of the 1989 Joe Lansdale novel is its many dramatic and tonal twists. Mickle says it was that which first attracted him to the book when he first read it while working on his debut movie, 2006’s horror film Mulberry Street. “It just smacked me in the face,” he recalls. “At that time, every script, every book, everything that I was reading was – and still is – just there to be one thing. You know, it’s going to be the evil kid movie or the teenagers-go-to-the-lake. Every script, no matter how good it was, always felt like it was declaring what it was in the first five pages and just spending the next 85 or 115 fulfilling its own promise without ever really trying to do anything else. I was so struck by this story that seemed to do that but then would jerk into something else – and then into something else.”
Cold in July is opening in select theaters May 23 and will also be available to watch on VOD on the same day. You can exclusively check out the film’s new poster above.