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The Independent Critic

Kevin Maggard, Luke Weaver, Wescott Youngson, Rachel Brady
Benjamin Stark
77 Mins.

 "The Nocturnal Third" Review 
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The second feature film from Alabama's Wonder Mill Films, The Nocturnal Third, is a fast-moving corporate thriller set against the backdrop of a developing Southern economy.

There's an Nolan-esque vibe about The Nocturnal Third, at least early Nolan, with Eli (Kevin Maggard) tasked with the challenge of working the dreaded third shift at the up-and-coming Stafford Stoneworks. Increasingly deteriorating machines, a demanding schedule and the presence of the mistrusted Harold (Wescott Youngson) leads to an increasingly unpredictable and anxiety-inducing night made worse when Harold becomes severely injured and Eli encounters an apparently stranded stranger (Luke Weaver) in whom he begins to take a degree of solace.

Filmed on a less than $10,000 budget, it's immediately apparent that writer/director Benjamin Stark has cast this film well with Kevin Maggard doing a nice job of portraying a young man seemingly trapped in an increasingly bleak world. Maggard's Eli a struggling artist whose mounting debt leads him to remain loyal to a job that seems to be sucking his soul. Rachel Brady does a solid job as Eli's young wife, the two projecting a sort of innocent light in their noirish world.

While Stark's script doesn't always quite convince, at times running opposite the tone of Jesse Ewing's industrialized original music, Stark does a terrific job of building characters who becoming increasingly intriguing as the film progresses.

Stephen Martel Lucas lenses the film with a nice blend of Southern comfort and neo-noir moodiness. Markus Matei's production design is simultaneously ominous and strangely comforting. As a filmmaker, Stark is clearly actor friendly and coaxes consistently solid performances across the ensemble. Stark also serves as editor for the film, a relatively fast-paced film within the framework of its regional setting.

Filmed on location in Huntsville and Somerville in Alabama, Stark has rolled out the film in rather creative ways designed to encourage both visibility and profitability. The film debuted in Huntsville this past September, with Stark also offering the film briefly on his website in an effort to allow his mostly Germany-based family to see the film. The Nocturnal Third is also available on Amazon with extra features, while it wouldn't be at all surprising to find the film featured at regional indie fests that will likely identify with the film's weaving together of Southern hospitality and horror.

For more information, visit The Nocturnal Third website.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic