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By Doug Brunell | June 27, 2005

On the surface, “The Milk Can” is about a war between two small towns,
Ferndale (where the original “Salem’s Lot” miniseries was shot) and Fortuna (where the original “Salem’s Lot” miniseries wasn’t shot). The towns have been friendly rivals for years as their high school football teams take to the field each season for possession of the precious milk can. When a levee causes a flood that kills a bunch of cattle, the two towns turn from football adversaries to bitter enemies and go to war with each other … or do they?

This comedic and inventive film is less about war and more about love, the longing to experience life outside one’s own little sphere of existence, and how communities can quickly degenerate into a gaggle of paranoid people at the slightest sign of trouble from the outside world. The fact that this is conveyed while you are laughing at the absurdity of it all says wonders about director/writer Matt Kresling’s skills. He knows his way around a situation, and his characters are well-rounded, realistic and instantly recognizable. People such as Linus (Grady Cousins), a teacher who has been all over the world but is now stuck in a redneck town, and Fitzy (Wes Atkinson), a high school student who has a crush on a girl he caught staring at him in a rainstorm, help to center the film. You know these people. You work with them. You went to school with them. Now imagine them launching attacks across cow fields while armed with rifles and handguns. If that isn’t comedy, I don’t know what is.

This movie is an ambitious effort that pays off. It’s also one of the better low-budget independent films out this year. It is sly and subtle where it needs to be, and outrageous at just the right moments. It also makes Kresling a director/writer to watch for in the future. Let’s hope, however, that we can get a few more independent films out of him before Hollywood lures him away.

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