31 Days of Hell: Streaming Releases: Cold Moon (2017) - Reviewed

Deep fried, southern gothic horror is a gem unto itself, often plagued by stereotypical psychopaths and unimaginative humor. The latest feature by Griff Furst is a twisting razor, a unique ghost story that abandons its corporeal protagonists in favor of focusing almost entirely on a restless spirit's plight. Featuring a deliciously evil turn by Criminal Minds alum Josh Stewart, a surprisingly lethal script, and unexpectedly wicked visuals, Cold Moon is an excellent choice for a scary movie viewing list this Halloween season. 

Margaret is murdered by a leather masked killer in a sleepy southern town. Her autopsy yields news that shakes the town to its core, exposing a web of sexual indiscretions and insidious corruption while Margaret's vengeful spirit wanders lonely streets in search of violent expiation. Furst and Jack Snyder’s script adapts Michael McDowell's novel. One of the more intriguing aspects of the film is that it focuses on the killer and their reaction to the supernatural vendetta that plays out under the steamy southern moonlight, highlighted by Thomas Callaway's crisp cinematography. While there are copious amounts of CGI laced throughout the narrative, Callaway's attention to detail, particularly with respect to the locale and its natives is paramount, allowing the newly arrived danger to contrast with the entrenched evils of small town living. The social dynamics are highlighted by unexpected angles and deep colors that are both representative of various characters’ motivations and an of out of time feeling that pervades throughout. 

Josh Stewart's performance as the lecherous well-to-do playboy is among the best of his career. Stewart's roles are usually noted for their inherit nobility, despite his characters' often questionable choices. Here, he shreds any sense of redemption in favor of presenting a man undone by his inhibitions, unable to see the consequences of his devastating actions because their definitions exist far beyond his soiled ivory tower. Cult icon Tommy Wiseau has a bit, but memorable cameo, while screen legend Christopher Lloyd continues his independent horror patronage in a supporting turn as Stewart's father. One of Cold Moon's best surprises is not only who doesn't survive, but when they die, with characters being chalked off throughout the run time at a steady, horrifying pace. While the CGI can be underwhelming, the amount of care put into this small picture cannot be overlooked. 

Fusing elements of Southern Gothic horror, psychological character studies, and shamanistic legend, Cold Moon is an excellent departure from the legions of carbon copies and reboots that litter the video on demand graveyard. Debuting today on various platforms, this is a remarkable effort in the genre with respect to its narrative framework. Many films choose to focus on the victim, or their families, but few dare to tread into the conscience of a killer, and Cold Moon's uncomfortable exploration of a murderer's undoing from within is an unforgettable experience.

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-Kyle Jonathan