Small Town Crime (2017) Review

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Small Town Crime (2017): 7 out of 10: is a neo-noir thriller film directed by Eshom and Ian Nelms. The film revolves around an ex-cop named Mike Kendall, played by John Hawkes, who becomes entangled in a web of crime and corruption while investigating the murder of a young woman. Set in a small town, the movie offers a gritty portrayal of the underbelly of rural America, combining elements of crime, mystery, and dark humor.

The Good

The Good: First of all, I could watch Robert Forster in anything. He is wonderful here. In fact, the entire cast is spot on. Anthony Anderson is a pleasure as always and it is good to see Octavia Spencer in a movie that doesn’t threaten to give me diabetes. Lead actor John Hawkes holds it all together as the alcoholic ex-cop trying to go straight.

The direction is also very solid with some well thought out and shot action scenes, particularly in the latter third of the movie. The movie keeps a good pace building both character development and tension in a natural way. It also ends well with characters reacting naturally to the events that have passed and actions having real consequences.

The Bad

The Bad: I like over the top cartoonish action films (Feast). I like alternative film noir (The Last Seduction), and I like B movie exploitation films (Re-Animator). Small Town Crime never seems to know which it is trying to be. It never stays in one lane and the writer and director simply don’t have the craft to completely pull off the tonal changes.

For the first hour or so, the film seems to be right in a perfect David Lynch groove, but it never seems to want to pull the trigger in either weirdness or depravity. Sometimes the film effectively shows the violence, but other times it simply fades to black to revisit the scene later with little rhyme or reason. Considering the storyline of the film, it is also a surprise that there is virtually no sex or nudity.

Small Town Crime is not exploitative enough to be a guilty pleasure. There are some great character moments in the film and some great action scenes. One could easily see how the film could have gone to a darker place, could have worn its B movie roots on its sleeve, or could have been a little more over the top with its action (though in all fairness it does nail this in the final third of the film). Too realistic to be cartoonish, too good-natured to be noir and too chaste to be exploitation Small Town Crime finds itself in a grey middle ground.

The Ugly

The Ugly: The title of the film is awful. Sounds like a hidden Netflix category.

In Conclusion

In Conclusion: Despite my words above, I had a really fun time with this movie. I don’t see myself revisiting it anytime soon, but it is certainly worth a watch on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

In my head I can hear Crow asking for the movie’s manager when learning this is our hero.
Speaking of Mystery Science Theater 3000, it looks like one of our characters is looking to hook up with Big Stupid.
I am honestly surprised she owns, or at the very least, is in the vicinity of books.
I call shotgun
Like I say above, I could watch Robert Forster in anything. And yes, I am including 1980s Alligator. Hell, I am primarily talking about 1980s Alligator.
When a woman is applying make-up, there is a fine line between just enough and Joker’s Henchman.
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