I just love these little unassuming but well-crafted indie thrillers. And Small Town Crime is one of them. They feature a familiar story that’s meticulously unfolding over the course of ninety minutes. Movies like this are perfect for weekdays when you need something that doesn’t require a lot of thinking. This does not mean that the movie is bad, boring, or dumb. It just means it’s different. It’s breezy, light, and easily digestible, just what you need after another soul-sucking day at work. And it even has some really cool cars too!
I would compare Small Town Crime to a bit more darker Cold in July. Both movies feature similar characters and plots. Even the humor is relatively the same. However, the movie we’re going to be talking about today is more entertaining. We’ll be following Mike, an alcoholic ex-cop as he’s trying to get to the bottom of the murder case he took an interest in. Played masterfully by ripped John Hawkes, his character is your classic down-on-your-luck guy looking for redemption. Will he find it is up to you to find out.
The rest of the cast is also great with one of my favorites, Clifton Collins Jr. playing the role of Mood, a nasty pimp. This just goes to show you that Clifton has an impeccable sense when it comes to picking his roles. If you see that he’s in some movie, you can be almost certain that it’s worth watching. It was also cool to see Robert Forster and Anthony Anderson. However, Jeremy Ratchford as Orthopedic stole the show here with his creepy performance. He looks and feels like a guy you wouldn’t want anywhere near you.
After a horrific incident, Mike Kendall has been fired from the force and now spends his days drinking himself to death. On one of these days or to be more precise, nights, he notices something moving by the side of the road. His cop instincts kick in and he stops to investigate only to find a severely beaten young woman barely clinging to life. Mike drives her to the hospital slowly becoming consumed with the drive to find out what happened to her.
Now, Small Town Crime is certainly not a masterpiece. But it’s also quite entertaining with solid pacing and storytelling. As someone who enjoys getting fucked up, I also liked the nihilistic and yet upbeat atmosphere. However, the whole thing is a bit too light to be considered a true noir or a neo-noir affair. We do have all the right ingredients but I think the whole thing needs to be much darker. The Nile Hilton Incident darker.
If you’re a car guy or a girl, you will get a kick out of the selection of vehicles on display here. Mike’s driving a 73-74 Nova, and not a 68-72 as he mentions in the movie. It makes those juicy and mechanical sounds while looking like a car you would want to just drive into infinity. And Clifton Collins Jr. is also driving a sweet lowrider. A definition of car porn.
Directors: Eshom Nelms, Ian Nelms
Writers: Eshom Nelms, Ian Nelms
Cast: John Hawkes, Anthony Anderson, Octavia Spencer, Robert Forster, Don Harvey, Clifton Collins Jr.
Fun Facts: Carl and Deborah Neville are played by real life husband and wife Robyn Lively and Bart Johnson.