The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Cold Moon

Cold Moon takes place in one of those quaint small towns where evil always seems to dwell in horror movies. It opens with the brutal murder of a teenage girl by a mask-wearing assailant, and you think it's going to be a generic slasher flick with a cut-rate Jason Voorhees at the center. Then the story goes a much different way. That proves to be a pleasant surprise, even if the film has a few hard-to-ignore flaws.

The murdered girl was a member of the Larkin family. Mother Evelyn (Candy Clark) is understandably distraught by this tragic turn of events. Why she was murdered should not be spoiled within the context of a review. What can safely be said is that the town's sheriff, Ted Hale (Frank Whaley), investigates, and the trail leads to the Redfield family – a clan of unscrupulous bankers headed up by patriarch James (Christopher Lloyd). Also, a malicious spirit begins stalking another Redfield, Nathan (Josh Stewart).

It's worth mentioning that Tommy Wiseau – the demented genius who gave us the glory that is The Room – has a 30-second cameo as a rodeo official. Why he is here might be Cold Moon's greatest mystery. At least he drops a variation of his famous catchphrase, ”You're tearing me apart, Lisa!”

Cold Moon smartly avoids the usual slasher cliches, choosing to identify the killer early on and working to establish a viable motive. Because this is a horror movie, the emphasis is on the scare beats, though, meaning that a very delicate theme involving adolescents and sexual activity is introduced without being handled with the delicacy it requires. The film sometimes feels uncomfortably exploitative because of that.

The acting is a touch uneven, as well. Frank Whaley plays the material straight, delivering a very strong performance as the sheriff who understands that some dark secrets are held by important people in his town. He approaches the role as though in a serious chiller. On the other end of the spectrum, you've got actors like Clark, Lloyd, and Rachele Brooke Smith (as Hale's hotsy-totsy daughter) who play things in a broader, more over-the-top fashion, like they're in a campy horror picture. Either approach is perfectly fine, although having everyone hit the same note would have been preferable.

Those issues are counterbalanced to a degree by some genuinely effective fright moments. Director Griff Furst executes several good jump scares, and the visual effects are downright creepy, particularly a ghostly woman who spews a snake from her mouth. The way the plot balances supernatural evil with “the evil that men do” is intriguing, too. There's something refreshing about a story that tries to meld the otherworldly, monster-y stuff with a more down-to-earth menace.

Cold Moon is ultimately a bit of a mixed bag. Still, there's enough that works to mean it shouldn't be completely dismissed.

( 1/2 out of four)

Cold Moon is unrated, but contains violence, language, and some sexuality. The running time is 1 hour and 32 minutes.

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