Adapted from Michael McDowell’s acclaimed novel Cold Moon Over Babylon, Griff Furst’s directorial feature debut Cold Moon is a mixed affair. Part supernatural horror, part psychological thriller, it is a film that would have benefitted from a clearer central vision, and never fully recovers from an over-complicated opening act.
On her way home the teenage Margaret Larkin (Bellamy) is attacked and murdered by a masked assailant. The discovery of her body sends her surviving family members Evelyn (Clark) and Jerry (Rushing) into a desperate mission to identify her murderer before they befall the same fate.
Perhaps what's surprising, given how Cold Moon opens, is its preferential focus on the psychological element of the story. Revealing the identity of the killer early on – which we won’t do here – flips the tale on its head, but this, in turn, becomes the film’s strength; the killer suffering his own personal haunting, as the guilt of his crimes and subsequent battle with remorse threaten to overpower him. In that role, the actor in question impresses, dislikeable from the beginning and barely deserving of empathy, the character’s descent into what he sees as madness is well crafted and entirely convincing. Some slightly suspect CGI aside, the hauntings themselves are well defined, with an appropriate number of jump scares adequately, if predictably included.
It is in the peripheries of the story where Cold Moon falls short. Plot strands are begun without ever truly finding resolution. An early thread regarding an inappropriate parent-teacher relationship is never investigated, despite the film dropping some very strong nudges and winks in that direction. Christopher Lloyd is largely wasted as an eccentric patriarch, holder of the purse strings for the town’s wealthiest family, and with an odd interest in having a young woman cavort for his pleasure. All potentially interesting ideas to follow through, but ones that fade into the background once the film decides upon its preferred premise.
These frustrations aside, Cold Moon is worth watching. Furst has harnessed a Southern Gothic aesthetic and style that gives the film a sense of being a living, breathing town. The performances are good, if a little caricatured in places, and the film skips along at a decent pace. If you avoid trying to work out the rather obvious twists and turns, you can spend a pleasant 90 minutes, but sadly that’s about as long as it will live in the memory.
COLD MOON / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: GRIFF FURST / SCREENPLAY: GRIFF FURST, JACK SNYDER / STARRING: TOMMY WISEAU, CHRISTOPHER LLOYD, ROBBIE KAY, JOSH STEWART / RELEASE DATE: JANUARY 22ND 2018