out of Five
Running time: 90
Cold Comes The Night is an engaging and enjoyable low-key crime thriller enlivened by a decent script, an original set-up and strong performances from both Alice Eve and Bryan Cranston.
What's it all about?
Directed by Tze Chun, Cold Comes The Night stars Alice Eve as Chloe, a struggling motel owner and single mother whose daughter Sophia (Ursula Parker) is in danger of being taken away by social services because their motel is notoriously sleazy, a situation not helped by the fact that Chloe takes a cut from the string of prostitutes who work there, all of whom are controlled by her dirty cop ex-hook-up Billy (Logan Marshall-Green). However, Chloe's life changes dramatically when half-blind Eastern European criminal Topo (Bryan Cranston) shows up at the motel on his way to deliver a package of money to his vicious bosses and his henchman Donnie (Leo Fitzpatrick) gets killed after a run-in with one of the prostitutes.
When his car gets impounded with the money still in it, Topo kidnaps both Chloe and Sophia and forces Chloe to act as his eyes while they try and retrieve the cash. However, things quickly escalate out of control when they discover that the car is empty and realise that Billy must have taken the money.
Britain's Alice Eve has been lumbered with support parts for far too long, so it's a treat to see her handed a lead role here and she duly steps up with an engaging, strong-willed and surprisingly resourceful performance; she also nails the American accent to boot. Cranston (currently riding high on the success of TV's Breaking Bad) is equally good as the mysterious Topo (his mystery heightened by the fact that he never takes his sunglasses off), but it seems he can only do the Polish accent while speaking in a growly monotone, so he sticks with that voice for the entire film.
Cold Comes The Night’s gritty, low-key script has the feel of an enjoyably pulpy crime novella and the plot takes a number of surprising turns, including an expertly-timed moment of violence that's genuinely shocking. The film also benefits from its unusual setting - a greying, rundown motel on a highway near the Canadian border - all of which is given an extra layer of gloomy atmosphere by the chilly autumnal weather.
The only real problem with Cold Comes The Night is that Marshall-Green is embarrassingly frantic as Billy (particularly when he's declaring his love for Chloe), to the point where his manic, shifty behaviour would probably stand out a mile at work. Similarly, Cranston's emotionally distancing performance backfires a little, because neither the audience nor Chloe are able to get close to him, so it's hard to care whether he gets his money or not, while Chloe, in turn, seems remarkably unfazed by either her ordeal or the difficult moral choices she has to make.
Cold Comes The Night is an enjoyably low-key crime thriller with a decent script, an intriguing setting and a superb central performance from Alice Eve. Worth seeing.