[This is a re-post of my review from the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Cold in July opens today in limited release.]
Genre is a lifeline. We cling to it in order to guide our expectations of a film, and while genres can be blended, we expect them to remain consistent. But just because a clearly stated genre is conventional, that doesn’t mean it’s unshakable. Jim Mickle’s Cold in July pulls its audience into one tone, and then explodes it over halfway through the picture only to blow it up yet again. It can be categorized as a “crime” film, but that doesn’t really do it justice as Mickle constantly shakes up the tone to where the picture can be jarring and schizophrenic. But this approach also makes Cold in July thrillingly unpredictable.