Writer-director Jim Mickle (Mulberry Street, Stake Land) likes to read Joe Lansdale novels. But after he read Lansdale's Cold in July, he knew he had the source material for his next movie. Cold in July opens on Friday at the Capitol Theatre.
"Honestly, when I went in I wasn't looking at it to see if it would make a good movie," he says. "I just went into it just to read it and enjoy it. The point was to escape. The goal was to read something entertaining to shake me up and it didn't have any similarities to the world I was dealing with. I don't know; it just leapt off the page."
So he set about working with Nick Damici on the screenplay. At first, the guys produced a 220-page tome. They whittled it down to something more manageable and the resulting movie combines elements of suspense and horror. The film centers on Richard Dane (Michael C. Hall). Richard shoots an intruder one night and then must face the wrath of the victim's father (Sam Shepard). The film follows a strange series of twists and turns as private detective Jim Bob Luke (Don Johnson) comes on board to try to straighten things out. The book is set in Texas in the '80s and Mickle didn't change the time period or setting.
"I like movies that take place in a world even if it's just a slightly off world from my own," he says. "It felt like a great opportunity to do that. I think there's a bit of an old-fashioned story here. There's an old-fashioned story about morality and an old-fashioned story about a man testing himself and there's simplicity to that and it just felt like a story from another era. The minute we started even thinking about updating that and moving it to modern times, it just seemed like it got complicated. I think things would be politicized and I wanted to have fun with recognizing that there's a pulp element to it and part of that is having fun with conventions, things we're used to seeing and changing them slightly. That felt like a really awesome opportunity to do that."
Mickle is famous for making horror movies and while Cold in July has horror film elements, it also dabbles in other genres too.
"We went into that film and we wanted to be as composed as possible and wanted to feel very conservative and feel very restrained and dialed back as much as possible and create a creepy film out of that. There is an element to this that is just absolutely fun and surprising, and we're going to take the audience on a rollercoaster ride," he says.