Welcome To Crowtown, A Macabre Crime-Noir Nightmare

by Olly MacNamee

Sometimes, when you’re at a con you meet some of the most interesting people. And, this year’s London Film and Comic Con was no different. Making his first film from a Tony Lee script (originally thought up after a trip to SDCC way, way back in 2006, but inevitably changed over the intervening years), Mark Kozlowski dropped Crowtown: Rolling Sixes back in September, but with a premier in London, and on a school night, I was unable to attend.
Thankfully Mark sent me over a copy and I’m glad he had! It’s a great, tense, crime-noir style story set in the Limbo world between life and death where… well, read the full synopsis below:

Upon reaching death, you arrive before a grand set of locked gates, a key clasped in your hand. This is purgatory. You insert your key into the lock and face judgement on whether you spend eternity in heaven or hell. Or so we believe, as no one who passed through has ever returned. But then there’s Crowtown, the last town, a community formed of those who choose refuse the uncertain fate that lies for them behind the gates.

Cain, the creator of murder itself, cursed with immortality and feared, even by death, has arrived in Crowtown and the town is scared.

The opening sequence with a slow-mo butterfly over a haunting, dark soundtrack certainly sets the nerves on edge and the scene, and the criminal interrogation we are witness to, set against a rather macabre, gothic like backdrop, immediately puts the viewer out of odds with such unfamiliar surrounding for what we think we’re watching. This is a menacing, moody set that should scream loudly at the audience that things aren’t quite right. The incessant dampness also created an unease that was complimented by the purposeful reliance of mid-shots and close-ups to build on the tension and claustrophobia coming off the two main characters, Cain (played cooly yet menacingly by Leon Annor) and Detective Oswald Gravel (Thomas Thoroe) as they philosophise and we ponder on the reasoning behind this particular interrogation. Who is really being interviewed here, and for that purpose?

It’s a taut, gripping drama which dips its toe in both the genre of hard boiled crime-noir (the costumes seem to be from that classic Silver Screen era of crime-noir classics such as The Maltese Falcon and thereby setting this tale out of time and space) and a touch of the supernatural bubbling below the surface. That supernatural sensibility may not be anything more than atmospheric, but It does give a taste of a purgatorial realm that has a lot to offer in the way of future stories. This is but a wet, acrid taste of a limbo world of ne’er-do-wells and down-and-outs and one I would be more than happy to explore in the future. Whether on screen or in print, I think this is a prologue of more stories yet to come from Crowtown and it’s denizens, I hope.
A modern day Tales of The Unexpected with the same sense of impending doom, and a dark dimensions ripe for exploration.

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