Operating in a dramatic tone similar to that of his debut film, “Winter Solstice,” but with lackluster results, writer-director Josh Sternfeld’s routine “Meskada” uneasily merges crime drama, police procedural and social commentary in a potentially serious depiction of schisms in contemporary rural America. Pic, which opened in limited release Dec. 3, is a nonstarter for fledgling distrib Red Flag Releasing (which bought the pic out of the Tribeca fest), though recognizable indie names Nick Stahl, Norman Reedus and Jonathan Tucker, along with “Twilight” hunk Kellan Lutz, could boost vid biz.
During a botched home robbery in the upscale New York burg of Hilliard, longtime friends Eddie (Lutz) and Shane (Tucker) are involved in the accidental killing of the young son of Meskada County Commission member Allison (Laura Benanti). Like Eddie and Shane, local detective Noah (Stahl, cast against type) hails from the down-and-out town of Caswell, where his investigation with co-sleuth Leslie (Rachel Nichols) clashes with the locals. Procedural matters are handled judiciously if conventionally, while dialogue is stuck in a TV-style rut, and the sense of class warfare isn’t worked into the narrative until well into the playing time.