Although best known today for his writing for the screen with credits on, among others, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Beetlejuice and Thinner, the late Michael McDowell was also a prolific and successful author. Surprisingly none of his books have been adapted for film until now, with the arrival of Cold Moon, based on his second novel “Cold Moon Over Babylon”.
When a sixteen-year-old girl turns up dead, tied to her bicycle in the ominously named river Styx, the small Southern town of Babylon is shocked. When her grandmother Evelyn (Candy Clark, The Man Who Fell To Earth, Zodiac) begins having dreams that implicate wealthy Nathan Redfield (Josh Stewart, The Collector) the police are uninterested.
Evelyn and the girl’s brother Jerry (Chester Rushing, Don’t Look In The Basement 2, Stranger Things) try to uncover the truth. But even as they do something begins stirring under the waters of the Styx. Something looking for vengeance.
Given director Griff Furst’s previous credits are mostly SyFy/Asylum films. Films such
The film’s first murder, with its black-masked killer attacking during a downpour is pure giallo. Several later scenes also recall Argento or Bava as the films shifts into a supernatural mode. The film’s dark, oppressive attitude is complemented by well-grounded performances. The cast also includes Christopher Lloyd, (I Am Not A Serial Killer, Back To The Future), Tommy Wiseau, (The Room) and Frank Whaley (Vacancy, The Shed).
Cold Moon also relies more on its script than effects for mood and shock. There are some well-done effects but it’s the script itself that provides the chills. Including a twist worthy of Hitchcock early in the film’s going. I actually had to rewind and double-check it wasn’t a nightmare or hallucination scene.
I haven’t read the original novel. So I don’t know how faithful Furst and co-writer Jack Snyder were to the original material. Regardless, they have delivered an effective film that marries giallo with Southern Gothic. And at a fast 80 minutes, Cold Moon doesn’t outstay it’s welcome or have time to drag.
Cold Moon is available from Uncork’d Entertainment on Amazon Prime, Tubi, and other streaming outlets.