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The Nocturnal Third
Genre Mystery

The Nocturnal Third is an atmospheric neo-noir mystery thriller starring Kevin Maggard, Westcott Youngson and Luke Weaver. This low budget production works within its constraints, choosing to shoot primarily at the stone masonery where the drama takes place. The story is taken from a young man's perspective as he adjusts to the responsibilities of his new job at the stone works. It's an in-between job for the budding cartoonist and he's called to do a late shift.

The Nocturnal Third relies quite heavily on atmosphere to set the pensive mood and create tension. The stoneworks is reminiscent of David Lynch's Twin Peaks opening credits with shots of machinery at work and actually becomes a character in itself.

Benjamin Stark's vision features departures from the suspended reality, in which Eli's (Maggard) inner world of thoughts become indistinguishable as imagination or premonition. This builds the suspense even further. A noir element bundles the atmosphere and tension in a deeper detective story as various phone calls and documents layer the story with hidden agendas.

There's an ominous feel to the events with a similar ebb-and-flow to Lynchland works. Stark is concerned with mood and conveying an emotional current to the viewer. There's a more linear structure to the narrative, following Eli as he absorbs from his work environment and then at home - echoing the perspective of the haunting mystery drama, The Machinist.

The performances are mixed, but collectively strong in its lead characters. Kevin Maggard (Band on the Search) has a likeness to Andrew Garfield and there's a similar likability at play. It's an understated performance of discovery as Eli's world unfolds. Maggard is counterbalanced by Westcott Youngson, who intially comes across as an intimidating unknown factor - only to reveal a more complex character.

Luke Weaver's (A Genesis Found) entry as the mysterious stranger is a welcome injection of suspense as his devious nature and motives come to light. Then it's a pity that Rachel Brady didn't have more screen time to develop Eli's character as the romantic interest. She brought a lighter contrasting tone to the ensemble - one that could have been explored more.

The atmosphere, mood and characters propel the story. There's an enigmatic air to the proceedings, which sustains the mystery and drama. Just with Lynch, there are dabs of story to keep the lid on things without any spoon-feeding. As a slow-burning mystery it will frustrate audiences expecting a conventional paint-by-numbers movie.

All in all, The Nocturnal Third holds artistic merit and credibility. The film conveys a definite mood and atmosphere, but the budgetary limitations keep the film from breaking out the box. A 77 minute runtime and a few undeveloped pockets of the story, keep The Nocturnal Third from reaching it's full potential.

This niche mystery drama seems like a chunk from a much bigger piece, giving it scope as a TV series similar to Twin Peaks. As a viewer, you're left wanting more background to all the subplots and characters yet to be explored.

The bottom line: Haunting


6.00/10 ( 1 Vote )
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