EAST STACKTON

3.5 Stars
Year Released: 2013
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 30 minutes
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Carroll (Jared Bankens) is a fish out of water, a business manager from Chicago tasked with checking on the status of one of the House and Home hardware store franchises in Louisiana. Arriving in East Stackton, he finds the store to be in fine shape, but the town’s vibe to be more than a little strange, especially as it pertains to him. As if someone nailing a possum to his motel room’s door isn’t bad enough, his rental car gets stolen too. With little help from the local Sheriff (Mike Mayo), who seems more interested in helping the Mayor (Gary Shannon) with a big dedication ceremony, Carroll finds himself lost and confused in East Stackton, as events only get stranger.

Sean Farina’s East Stackton is a great mix of thriller and horror-comedy. It has its moments of shocking gore, enough suspense and mystery to keep you guessing and the right amount of comedy to undermine anything from getting too tense. It’s a delicate balance, and the film nails it.

For one, Jared Bankens portrayal of Carroll is devious in its charm. He’s a guy who seemingly wants to make the right impression, but also doesn’t have the highest opinion of the locals around him. The more he tries to fit in, the more angry and resentful he becomes at each failure.

Regardless of events, from before he even arrived, it was always Carroll versus East Stackton. If it wasn’t overt at first, it was in his head, no matter how much he may’ve pretended otherwise on the surface. This lends the character a depth that otherwise wouldn’t have existed had he just been goofy business guy that shit happens to. In this case, while no one, I think, would want someone to nail a possum to their motel room door, the adversarial relationship was already established in Carroll’s mind anyway, and anything that follows is just a self-fulfilling prophecy (of increasing nuttiness).

So, yeah, I really enjoyed East Stackton. It’s got that no-man’s land running time going for it, but what are you supposed to do? The film does a great job of setting stakes and moving the story along without wasting time anywhere, so I don’t know how you could tighten this one up enough for it not to still be stuck in that less-than-ideal “short” running time anyway. I just hope that doesn’t hinder its chances to be seen, as it does with so many other short films, as this is a fun one.

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Posted on June 30, 2013 in Reviews by
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