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Movie Review: “The Stix” – A Gritty Dive into Rural Crime



The Stix,written and directed by Jaron Lockridge, offers a gritty exploration of the drug trade and law enforcement in rural West Tennessee.

This indie film brings to life the story of a narcotics investigation team pursuing Martell Jenkins (played by Darnail Lanton), a local kingpin who is grappling with mutiny within his organization.

The film opens with a series of unsettling events for Martell. Random robberies of his stash houses are crippling his business, and he finds himself uncertain about whom to trust within his team. This internal turmoil is juxtaposed with the external pressure from the narcotics investigation team of the sheriff’s office, comprising LieutenantLTChew (played by Jeff Haltom), Sgt. Eric Greer (played by Everett Anderson), Officer Hamilton (played by John Dylan Atkins), and Nicole Harris (played by Nichole Tate-Jackson).

One of the film’s strengths is its well-crafted character backstories, which add depth to the narrative. Each character is portrayed not just as a law enforcement officer or a criminal, but as a person with personal issues and complexities. Harris, for instance, is a single mother struggling with financial troubles while balancing her demanding job. Her character’s depth is highlighted in a particularly poignant subplot involving her children being taken by Child Protective Services, illustrating how her personal life impacts her professional duties.

Sgt. Eric Greer is another standout character, dealing with a failing marriage yet showing unwavering dedication to his work. These personal storylines make the characters relatable and provide a deeper understanding of their motivations.

The overall acting inThe Stixis commendable for an indie film. The main cast delivers their lines naturally, making their characters believable and engaging. Darnail Lanton’s portrayal of Martell Jenkins captures the tension and paranoia of a kingpin under siege from within and without. However, some of the supporting cast members do exhibit a bit of amateurish delivery, which occasionally detracts from the immersion.

One notable drawback of the film is its pacing. The dialogue tends to be slow, causing several scenes to drag longer than necessary. At a two-hour runtime, the film feels a bit stretched for the story it tells. While the backstories add valuable context, they sometimes overshadow the central plot, diluting the sense of urgency that should drive a crime thriller.

Despite these pacing issues, Lockridge’s direction ensures thatThe Stixmaintains a certain level of cinematic quality. The film’s visual aesthetic, achieved through careful location choices and a distinct colour palette, provides a more polished look than one might expect from a low-budget indie. This visual attention helps elevate the film above the typicalblack hood Tubi movie, giving it a more refined feel.

As the narrative unfolds, themes of revenge and betrayal come to the forefront. The tension within Martell’s organization builds towards a climax, while the investigation team relentlessly closes in on their target. These themes are well-handled and add layers to the story, although the film’s leisurely pace sometimes undermines the inherent tension of these plot points.

The Stixis an okay film that serves as a passable way to pass the time. It offers a detailed look at the intersecting worlds of crime and law enforcement in a rural setting, with strong character development and decent acting from its main cast. However, its slow pacing and occasional amateurish performances from supporting actors hold it back from being a standout entry in the crime thriller genre.

For these reasons, I will score this film 5/10. For anyone interested in character-driven stories with a rural twist,The Stixprovides a worthwhile, if not entirely gripping, viewing experience. It attempts to break the moulds of small-budget indie crime thriller.

Second on my list of addictions is Movies.. the only thing I could possibly love more is my Dearest Waakye lol. Nothing else does a better job of reminding me that ANYTHING is possible with the right amount of effort. I have great eye for details and flaws in scripts. Shallow scripts bore me. I am an avid reader. Your everyday Mr Nice guy. Always the last to speak in a room full of smart people. Half Human, half Martian but full MOVIE FREAK.

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