×

Film Review: ‘Cold Moon’

An eccentric mix of veteran actors, Southern Gothicism and neo-noir lends charm to a ghostly-revenge thriller.

Director:
Griff Furst
With:
Josh Stewart, Candy Clark, Robbie A. Kay, Frank Whaley, Christopher Lloyd, Sara Catherine Bellamy, Joe Chrest, Rachelle Brooke Smith, Chester Rushing, Marcus Lyle Brown, Laura Cayouette, Michael Papajohn, Jaiden Kaine.
Release Date:
Oct 6, 2017

1 hour 27 minutes

An eccentric mix of veteran actors, Southern Gothicism and neo-noir lends “Cold Moon” a certain charm as a ghostly revenge thriller. This handsome-looking potboiler is well-crafted on various planes, even if telepic and direct-to-video helmer Griff Furst’s mostly game-upping latest feature is also occasionally at tonal odds with the screenplay’s campier “Creepshow”-type horror aspects. Nonetheless, as guilty pleasures go, this one rates a solid B.

Orphaned Jerry Larkin (Chester Rushing) is a sober-minded youth attentive to the financial plight of grandmother Evelyn (Candy Clark) and their family’s Florida blueberry farm — in contrast to high-spirited sister Margaret (Sara Catherine Bellamy). Galavanting around on her bicycle long past when she’s due home, Margaret is attacked by a mysterious, hearse-driving figure on her belated return. He throws her over a bridge, then leaps over himself to ensure she drowns. Afterward, a coroner discovers the 16-year-old was four months pregnant.

This merely kickstarts a lurid narrative in which some of the folks we expect to be our main protagonists barely survive past the first act. Local child-of-privilege sociopath Nathan Redfield (Josh Stewart) turns out to be the main menace here, and he’s well-deserving of the supernatural payback he gets.

That last element renders “Cold Moon” increasingly silly, but no less entertaining. Dead Margaret appears to become empowered by a vengeful snake-spirit. Other primary characters include Nathan’s awful bankster father (Christopher Lloyd), his naive teenage brother (Robbie A. Kay), and the African-American schoolteacher (Marcus Lyle Brown) Nathan tries to frame for his crimes. There’s also a well-intentioned local sheriff (Frank Whaley) and his sexy daughter (Rachele Brooke Smith), who also has dangerous ties to Nathan.

Ultimately at least as much a portrait of noir psychopathy a la “The Killer Inside Me” as it is a supernatural thriller, “Cold Moon” is goofy, but juicy. It looks fine in Thomas L. Callaway’s widescreen photography, with Louisiana standing in for the Babylon, Fla., setting of co-scenarist Michael McDowell’s source novel. All other design contributions are nicely turned, beyond some iffy CGI. (And why include yet another familiar clip from Romero’s original “Night of the Living Dead”? That movie’s public-domain status has been milked to death already.)

The performers are impressively committed, though they run a gamut: The principals are fine while some older, name actors occasionally go over-the-top. “The Room’s” Tommy Wiseau barely figures in a nonetheless-distracting early cameo as a rodeo snake-charmer. Do rodeos have snake-charmers? Probably not, but then exceptions must always be made for the strikingly inexplicable Mr. Wiseau, who seems like a UFO no matter what context he’s dropped into.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: 'Cold Moon'

Reviewed online, San Francisco, Sept. 27, 2017. Running time: 87 min.

Production: An Uncork’d Entertainment release of a Curmudgeon Films and Highland Film Group presentation in association with Allaborde Prods. Producers: Griff Furst, Isaiah Laborde, Stephen Furst. Executive producers: Arthur Scanlan, Lee C. Rogers, Ross Hebert, Miguel Sandoval, Smokey Scanlan, Tonya Bellamy. CREW: Director, editor: Griff Furst. Screenplay, Michael McDowell, Jack Snyder, Furst, based on the novel “Cold Moon Over Babylon” by McDowell. Camera (color, widescreen, HD): Thomas L. Callaway. Music: Nathan Furst.

With: Josh Stewart, Candy Clark, Robbie A. Kay, Frank Whaley, Christopher Lloyd, Sara Catherine Bellamy, Joe Chrest, Rachelle Brooke Smith, Chester Rushing, Marcus Lyle Brown, Laura Cayouette, Michael Papajohn, Jaiden Kaine.

More Film

  • Minyan

    'Minyan': Film Review

    Best known for the unexpectedly soul-shattering San Francisco suicide doc “The Bridge,” indie filmmaker Eric Steel came out and came of age in 1980s New York at a moment just before AIDS devastated the city’s gay community. Such timing must have been surreal, to assume something so liberating about one’s own identity, only to watch [...]

  • Animated Movie 'The Queen's Corgi' Fetches

    Film New Roundup: Animated Movie 'The Queen's Corgi' Fetches North American Distribution

    In today’s film news roundup, “The Queen’s Corgi” finds a home, the Overlook Film Festival is postponed and the California Film Commission adjusts its tax credit rules due to the coronavirus. ACQUISITION Freestyle Digital Media has acquired North American rights to the animated family comedy feature “The Queen’s Corgi,” and plans to make it available on DVD and to [...]

  • APA Logo

    APA Sets Salary Cuts and Furloughs in Wake of Covid-19 Pandemic

    Following in the steps of several agencies dealing with the coronavirus, APA has informed all offices of upcoming salary cuts along with possible suspensions and furloughs for employees due to the pandemic’s economic effect on the industry. APA board of directors will make the largest financial sacrifice. The move has been made to avoid layoffs [...]

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    DGA, SAG-AFTRA, WGA Scramble to Keep Residuals Flowing During Coronavirus Pandemic

    Hollywood’s creative guilds have been working overtime to keep residual checks going out to members during the coronavirus crisis. Even though most of the staff members of the Directors Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America West have been working remotely, the guilds have stepped up efforts to maintain the flow of [...]

  • Hannah Marks, Dylan Sprouse. Hannah Marks,

    How a Bart Simpson T-Shirt Delayed Dylan Sprouse’s Movie ‘Banana Split’

    Long before the release of “Booksmart,” actress Hannah Marks set out to make a movie that would be the female bookend to “Superbad.” She started writing the script eight years ago, at 18, based on a real-life story about how, in high school, she befriended the girlfriend of her ex-boyfriend. Many drafts followed for “Banana [...]

  • Ryan Reynolds'6 Underground' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Ryan Reynolds in Talks to Star in 'Dragon's Lair' Film Adaptation for Netflix

    Ryan Reynolds is in talks to star in and produce a live-action feature adaptation of the ’80s arcade game “Dragon’s Lair” for Netflix. Roy Lee will produce through his Vertigo Entertainment with Trevor Engelson of Underground Films. Don Bluth, Gary Goldman and Jon Pomeroy are also producing. Reynolds will produce through his Maximum Effort production [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content