From the Archives: Cold Moon review

From the Archives: Cold Moon review

In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it. 

Without further ado, I present to you: FROM THE ARCHIVES.

Originally posted on Cinema76.

Gaaaaaaah I really don’t want to come down hard on a “little movie that could,” but unfortunately, Cold Moon represents a brand of genre filmmaking which is almost always doomed to fail: middle budget horror. A big budget can net you The Conjuring. A tiny budget can create The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But those pesky middle budgets are usually afforded to soulless gimmick filmmaking ::cough Sharknado cough::

This isn’t to say that the budgetary scale is a divining rod for quality, but it’s a pretty reliable way to start. So how does a film rise above this constraint? Well, when stuck in this financial middle ground it becomes necessary that the filmmakers have a strong vision. It’s imperative that they avoid overuse of intangible CGI. Above all else, they must give more weight to thoughtful production — the language of cinema — than to post-production. “We’ll fix it in post” is one thing, but “ehhh just film everything and we’ll cut something together” is weak.

Cold Moon has its moments, but the complete lack of style, tone, and technique leaves it feeling more turgid than a movie about vengeance ghosts should ever be. The film is based on the 1980 novel Cold Moon Over Babylon, and it’s hinted at in the film’s structure. There’s so much presumably going on behind the main plot (guy throws girl off bridge, her ghost and the ghosts of other bridge-deaths want revenge), that one wonders how much depth has been glossed over or traded out for ineffective jolts. There’s a subplot about real estate that seems like it should be relevant, but it’s hard to place. It’s even harder to remember. There’s a family drama peeking through intermittently as well, and it likely shines on the page. Here it’s barely an afterthought. Rather than digging below the surface of any one character’s journey, Cold Moonspreads itself thin trying to touch upon each, robbing the whole thing of accessibility.

Oh and Frank Whaley. Poor poor Frank Whaley. If anyone deserves better, it’s him. If anyone could make a career of bringing legitimacy to an oft-disrespected genre, it’s him.

Our director, Griff Furst, has quite the filmography, mostly as an actor/producer … but let’s look at his directing work to get a better idea of what field we’re playing in. Note, he has directed 16 films in just 10 years. Here’s a selection:

– Universal Soldiers – Arachnoquake – Alligator Alley – Swamp Shark – Ghost Shark

So yeah. I imagine if you’re the type to dig on Ghost Shark (can you even be eaten by an ectoplasmic shark?!?), Cold Moon is probably for you.

Note: Even though I was not a big fan of this movie, I can’t live a life where Arachnoquakeexists and I haven’t seen it. I will hunt it down.

Leave a Reply