"Cold Comes The Night" sure sounds like an old noir movie title from the '40s. Well, maybe "Cold Comes The Night, My Love" would be closer. Either way, the noir sounding title is no coincidence. This movie definitely fits within the dark corners of the noir film genre. There is crime, murder, money, double-crossing, and if not a full-fledged mystery, at least a somewhat mysterious atmosphere.
The difference here from a 1940s noir movie is that the female role is not just that of a "dame". The main character here, who is female, is not a manipulative woman using sex as a weapon. She is a stay-at-her-motel mom. That is to say, she lives and works in a motel with her young daughter. As much as movies have become much more explicit in their content, it is interesting to note how this particular noir is much less about sex than most of the noirs of old. "Cold Comes The Night" is a movie about greed, violent tendencies, and what one is willing to do to survive.
Really though, any deep insight that could be gained from this movie would be mostly manufactured by the viewer's own brain. There doesn't really seem to be much beneath the surface of this film. I do not get the impression that this movie was really meant to be analyzed too deeply. "Cold Comes The Night" is more like a ride at a theme park. Its purpose is merely to take you on a journey filled with thrills. It exists more for the emotions that it will give the viewer and not for any kind of deep character study.
The characters in "Cold Comes The Night" have all been seen before. There isn't really much new ground here in terms of character or plot. Yes, there is the struggling mom as the lead in a noir story which is something new, but all the other characters are very stock noir characters. The plot is not complicated at all nor does it go anywhere beyond the typical money and murder situations that are found in every noir story. So, yes, "Cold Comes The Night" is a bit of a bland movie.
Now, not all bland movies are necessarily bad. A movie doesn't have to break any new ground to be worthwhile. A movie can stay within the comfortable borders of a tried and true genre and still be entertaining. What a movie like this needs in order to achieve this is a solid effort from the filmmakers that really makes for a well made movie. "Cold Comes The Night" only somewhat makes it in this regard.
The acting in "Cold Comes The Night" is its strongest suit. Bryan Cranston, at first, may seem a little silly with his Russian accent, but actually he has a great presence on screen and total command of the camera. His is not a loud performance, but a quiet, contemplative, one. Alice Eve as the lead character, Chloe, does a great job showing both the love and resourcefulness that only a mother can have. Logan Marshall-Green is also well cast as a cop who may be corrupt (in a noir movie? No way!). He has some scene-stealing moments in the movie where he really gets to let loose with his acting. Overall, the acting is solid and carries the film along during its dark ride.
Unfortunately, the rest of the film-making here is not as solid. Despite the dark nature of the film and the intense situations of the plot, there isn't really all that much tension felt in the movie. There is just something lacking in the music, editing, and shot composition to really make the viewer feel the tension that should be on the screen. The actors make some of the tension come through, but acting alone is not enough to really make what should have been an intense movie as intense as it should have been.
All the blame can't go on how the movie was filmed, however. Blame also has to go to the script itself. It is a script that offers no surprises and thus not much excitement can ever really be felt. I think with better filmmakers at the helm, the script could have been turned into something more visceral, but it still would have suffered from the lack of anything really new being brought to the table.
All in all, "Cold Comes The Night" isn't quite successful enough to really work. There are scenes that play just fine, but then there are others that don't really leave much impact. The movie as a whole really lacks the drive a thriller like this needs to really thrill. The performances are solid and there are moments in this movie that make it enjoyable at times, but overall, "Cold Comes The Night" just doesn't quite make the grade.