CAPSULE: CAPSULE: In a small backwater town in Florida a teenager has gone missing. She lives with her grandmother who is deeply worried about the lost girl. Griff Furst directs this adaption by Jack Snyder of Michael McDowell's novel, COLD MOON OVER BABYLON. The story is either a psychological or a supernatural thriller. You can take your pick. Furst takes advantage of the Deep South setting where giving a feel of gothic to the proceedings. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10
For a genuine Southern Gothic feel to a film, you really need to see some swamp or some kudzu. Somehow you need the feel of HUSH, HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE or SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER. Somehow COLD MOON is missing that, but it does have some gothic feel. Our film takes place in Babylon, Florida in 1989, though the film is based on COLD MOON OVER BABYLON by Michael McDowell, which was written in 1980. The film starts with a missing-person mystery. High-schooler Margaret Larkin was on an errand on her bicycle when she completely disappeared. Her grandmother Evelyn (Candy Clark) wants her found in no uncertain terms. Early on we are sure she will not show up alive.
At about the halfway point of the film we find who the culprit is and we move into the killer's mind as he is tormented by ghosts of the dead who may or may not be all in his mind. Actual ghosts or imaginary, they are real enough to torment him. The mystery plot is little that is new to the mystery genre. The film's strongest point is the visual imagery of the dead returning to avenge the murder. I am not an easy scare for a horror film, but the makeup effects had me on edge. In a flashback we see a man with his head hidden in a black hood murder her. No doubt the Deep South texture enhances the chills for the viewer. The uncertainty whether the ghosts are real or not is familiar to most horror audiences since THE INNOCENTS or its source in the Henry James story A TURN OF THE SCREW.
The film is based on Michael McDowell's novel, COLD MOON OVER BABYLON. McDowell is noted for writing the stories of BEETLEJUICE and NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. This is a somewhat more serious plot than either of those films had.
Main character Sheriff Ted Hale is played by familiar face Frank Whaley. Horror film veteran Candy Clark plays Evelyn. And Christopher Lloyd of the BACK TO THE FUTURE series--nice to see him still working--is along in a small but effective part.
COLD MOON has the feel of a horror novel and makes for a few unexpected chills. I rate it a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.
Release date: October 6, 2017.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4441098/combined
What others are saying: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/cold_moon
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2017 Mark R. Leeper