Directed and co-written by Tze Chun, 2013's Cold Comes The Night tells the story of a woman named Chloe (Alice Eve) and her daughter Sophia (Ursula Parker) who live out in the middle of nowhere off of a remote highway in a fleapit motel. Chloe runs the place and it's definitely seen better days. Business is bad enough that she's having trouble making ends meet. When a dirty cop named Billy (Logan Marshall-Green) comes poking around to see what he can do about the financial problems she's on the receiving end of, he winds up using his position to take advantage of her. She's not happy about this.
Chloe's situation changes almost overnight when a Russian man named Topo (Byran Cranston) shows up at the hotel. As Topo is almost completely blind, he arrives with a driver alongside him. Topo is a criminal and he's stopping over to spend the night on his way to deliver a package to a man. When Topo's driver gets killed in a car accident his car is impounded by the cops, which leaves him in a bad situation. He can't see well enough to drive himself and he must get that package delivered on time. Topo winds up kidnapping Chloe and Sophia and forcing Chloe to drive for him. If she refuses, well, he's got Sophia to use as a pretty huge bartering tool. When Billy steals the package from the impounded car, Topo makes the three of them give chase but where some might see danger, Chloe sees opportunity…
It makes sense that after the critical and commercial success of Breaking Bad that we'd see Bryan Cranston take on more serious dramatic roles than those he was known for before the AMC series struck gold. Indeed, his work in Cold Comes The Night is quite solid, he makes Topo not only a genuinely threatening character but also quite an interesting one. The movie doesn't really benefit from making his character a Russian, as nothing more comes out of that revelation outside of Cranston having to perform with an accent that doesn't always convince, but that issue aside, his work here is solid. His character has a bit of depth but so too does he have enough of a mystery about him that we're interested in seeing what happens to him.
As to the rest of the cast? Well, Parker is fine as the young woman in peril but her character isn't all that well developed. Marshall-Green is also fine as the dirty cop but again, he's not all that well developed either and in fact his character is more of a cliché than anything else. Credit where credit is due, however, because Alice Eve makes Chloe a very believable protagonist. While there are some holes in the plot in regards to her character (why is she allowing junkies and whores to use the rooms of her hotel with the okay from the cops but doesn't seem to be getting any sort of financial reward from this arrangement?) she does deliver solid work. There's authentic world weariness to her character that suits her situation well and seeing Eve handle this, often without the typical glamorous makeup job most actresses wind up sporting, is impressive. We buy her in the role, and we accept her as a woman willing to do whatever she deems necessary to make a better life for the only thing that really matters to her anymore, her daughter.
The movie is well paced and well shot and at ninety minutes in length it never comes close to overstaying its welcome. There are, however, a few too many times where some of the events portrayed stress the believability factor of the movie and a few too many times where character motivation seems dicey. The end result is that Cold Comes The Night is a movie that has some plot holes and some issues with clichés but that is still worth seeing thanks to the talent assembled in front of the camera. It's not going to change your life, but it's suspenseful and entertaining.
Cold Comes The Night arrives on Blu-ray framed at 1.78.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. This is, stylistically speaking, a pretty dark movie. Lots of it is shot indoors and in low light and much of what does occur out of doors takes place in the night time, so it stands to reason that the transfer would replicate this and that by doing so, it's not going to be one of those discs that you put on where the colors pop. As far as the quality of the digital image is concerned, however, the disc shapes up quite well. Black levels are strong and solid and shadow detail is pretty good. A few of the really dark scenes show a little bit of crush and maybe some minor compression artifacts but outside of that this is a clean and stable image. Detail is pretty solid and skin tones look lifelike and natural. There's no evidence of noise reduction or edge enhancement and all in all, the picture quality is crisp, clean and nicely detailed.
The main audio option on the disc is an English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track while subtitles are provided in English, English SDH, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Icelandic, Norwegian, Portuguese and Swedish. This isn't the world's most aggressive lossless mix and much of the film relies heavily on dialogue rather than on effects work so don't expect constant rear channel use. Having said that, there are certainly some moments in the movie where the directional effects spring to life nicely and do take advantage of what the format can offer. Sound effects have nice presence to them and the score, while a little on the generic side, has nice depth and range to it. Dialogue sounds crisp and clear and there are no issues with hiss, distortion, or wonky levels. This isn't home theater demo material but it certainly sounds just fine. A French language DTS-HD 5.1 track is also included.
Aside from a few previews that play for unrelated Sony properties before the main menus load, the only extra on the disc are a handful of deleted scenes that run approximately thirteen minutes in length. There are five scenes in total and they're actually worth seeing as they do manage to elaborate on a few character motivations. Chapter selection is also offered.
Cold Comes The Night is a decent if imperfect film that benefits from an admittedly very interesting premise and some solid acting, particularly form Cranston. It's not a classic but it's worth seeing for those reasons and it's pretty slick with its visuals and its editing. The Blu-ray from Sony is surprisingly light on extras but it looks and sounds quite good. Cranston devotees will definitely appreciate this more than the casual fan, but even if you fall into the latter group, this is worth checking out if tough to wholly recommend as a blind buy. Rent it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.