COLD COMES THE NIGHT Movie Review
One star for director Tze Chun. And one star for superhuman Bryan Cranston. He once said that superb acting can’t improve a lukewarm script more than one letter grade, but since Breaking Bad catapulted his talent into categories reserved for the divine, there has been little opportunity to see if his claim is true. Cold Comes The Night is proof that it is. The effort with which this soon-to-be late-night Netflix binge thriller holds your interest is equal to the transparent star rating that I’m providing.
Chun first rose to prominence with his critically acclaimed and award-winning debut Children of Invention, but his sophomore feature-length screenplay—cowritten with Oz Perkins and Nick Simon—is not so bold. The story begins with Chloe (Alice Eve) being told by a social worker that running a low-grade motel in upstate New York and parenting a young girl are not compatible operations. Her denial of this fact, substantiated by a homicide in one of her rooms, and her decision to ignore the warning, comes across as a reckless one rather than the courageous perseverance of a young parent. The following is somewhat spoiler-ish, but it’s too amusing to keep to myself: when Chloe’s daughter says at the end “Mom, you’re crazy,” to which Chloe responds “I know,” they not only give me hope that this was a deliberate character flaw, but I’m also certain that this was a beautiful reference to Hitchcock’s Psycho—starring Anthony Perkins, father of Cold co-writer Oz Perkins.
Career criminal Topo (Cranston), who is almost exactly like The Transporter, and would probably have the same expert driving skills were it not for his blindness, is immensely more enigmatic than the script suggests. The same man who for seven years has made it impossible to decide whether or not we should love him or hate him falls perfectly into place here. I’m not convinced the screenplay didn’t contain a one-dimensionally evil character before Mr. Cranston joined. Not nearly early enough does Chloe finally admit that she realizes he is blind; especially if you’d seen the trailer or read nearly anything about the movie before seeing it, a moment meant to reinforce the strength of the beautiful female lead, instead renders her much too passive.
I would digress to identify other flaws that are mostly forgivable in the film, which I can still certainly call fun to watch. Even if I couldn’t figure out what the title means.