Oh, Those Small Towns

Stars: Bill Sage, Ismenia Mendes, Jack Falahee, Nolan North, Amy Hargreaves and Kathryn Morris
Director/Scriptwriter: Travis Burgess
Cinematography: Brad Porter
American Bravado/Good Deed Entertainment
Rating: not rated but could be PG 13
Running Length: one hour 45 minutes

The word “hayseed” has come to mean someone who is out of their element, usually in a small community. The stranger---the traveler---the visitor---are classified in one word that means “out of place.”  This is what happens to Leo Hobbins (Bill Sage), an insurance investigator who is called into action when one of the policy holders is found deceased.  The dead person is a pastor and found  in a pool on parish grounds. Accident, thought at first, but then, the word “doubt” comes into play and the search begins, The setting is Emmaus, Mich. and the name “Emmasus” will be familiar from the New Testament

The plot of director/writer Travis Burgess first main film  is a comedy with a Hercule Poirot approach in that the searcher (Leo) thinks there is more behind this death that what it appears—an accident. Getting settled in this town is one thing, and then gathering parishioners, one by one, to ask questions, well, that is quite another and where the comedy begins. This is a showcase of talent and each has their approach to say what they think is truth, or in the case of a small Michigan town, gossip. A surprise is that the deceased pastor left his wealth to his secretary, Darlene (Ismenia Mendes). What, you say? Talk about a prime suspect, but, she alerted the investigator to suspicious things happening beforehand. Then, there is the inept Trooper Kyle Gellis (Kyle Jurassic), the suspicious guy, “Duck” (Jack Falahee) and Don and Jane Fulcher (Nolan North and Amy Hargreaves.)  Where to begin?

The church setting gives an ambience to the story, that carries through until facts start to come out. Everyone has a secret. This small town is like any small town around the U.S., but how often does murder come knocking at the door? Bill Sage gives his character of “Leo,” a quiet touch when talking to people, but you can see he is thinking something else. Ismenia Mendes as “Darlene,” gives the audience a woman who has worked hard in her life for what she has. Kyle’s Jurrassic’s  “Trooper” is a person not unlike the town cop in the “Doc Martin” television series. He is there and inept. When presenting themselves to the investigator for questioning, some actors are naturals while others stiff in their performance. There is no name given as composer for the soundtrack of “Hayseed.”

All in all, “Hayseed” is a film with a home town touch and gentle humor. It would make a good television series. 

Copyright 2023 Marie Asner