Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Locker 13

An ambitious little anthology film with a moral center—in each segment the characters' fates are explicitly tied to their moral choices—but few real scares.

March 28, 2014

-By Maitland McDonagh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1397188-Locker_13_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Ex-con Skip (Jason Spisak) needs a job, even if it's night-shift cleanup at a small-time Wild West roadside attraction, but getting through the walk-through with his loquacious boss, Archie (John Gries), proves an unexpected ordeal: every chair, lamp and knickknack has a story, and Archie knows them all.

Those boxing gloves, for example, once belonged, albeit briefly, to a washed-up fighter (’80s child-star Ricky Schroder), who “made some bad choices” when the gloves transformed him from a plugger to a killer. Or that silly fez, once worn by naïve Eugene (Bart Johnson), whose initiation into the Benevolent Byzantine Order of Nobles of the Enigmatic Oracle—a faintly comical fraternal order whose well-connected members could offer an ambitious young man a leg up in the business word—takes a turn for the ugly when the words "blood" and "sacrifice" enter the boys'–club chit chat.

Other tchotchkes trigger the story of a would-be jumper (Alexander Polinsky) interrupted by a sleek stranger (Jason Marsden, who also directed the last segment) who, rather than trying to persuade him life is worth living, calmly talks him through doing suicide right, and the tale of a paid assassin (Rick Hoffman) who kidnapped three women (Marina Benedict, Krista Allen, Carmen Perez), one of whom hired him to murder a man with whom all were intimately involved.

Despite boasting five directors, eight writers and more than a dozen producers, Locker 13—partially financed with Kickstarter campaign—hangs together better than many anthology pictures. Yes, each segment is essentially a self-contained, one-act play, but the common theme (however obvious, and it is obvious; there are only so many ways to say "know thyself") and surprising consistent style (given the multiple cinematographers) provide continuity. Its other strong suit is the quality of the performances, courtesy of a cast filled with character actors whose combined credits are enough to make your eyes water and whose faces are just familiar enough to assure viewers that they’re in good hands.

Be advised: if you go in expecting an exercise in nerve-shredding, gut-testing horror or soft-core hijinks, you’ll be disappointed; R rating notwithstanding, guts, gore and gazongas are not the main event. Locker 13 has more in common with TV's “Night Gallery” (1970-73) than the Saw franchise, and while it never achieves the genre-defining highs of Dead of Night (1945), the elegance of Black Sabbath (1963), the pulp luridness of Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror (1972 and '73) or the addictive Karen Black-ness of cult classic Trilogy of Terror (1975), it's still well above the barrel-scraping lows of 1985's Night Train to Terror and Creepshow 3 (2007).


Film Review: Locker 13

An ambitious little anthology film with a moral center—in each segment the characters' fates are explicitly tied to their moral choices—but few real scares.

March 28, 2014

-By Maitland McDonagh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1397188-Locker_13_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Ex-con Skip (Jason Spisak) needs a job, even if it's night-shift cleanup at a small-time Wild West roadside attraction, but getting through the walk-through with his loquacious boss, Archie (John Gries), proves an unexpected ordeal: every chair, lamp and knickknack has a story, and Archie knows them all.

Those boxing gloves, for example, once belonged, albeit briefly, to a washed-up fighter (’80s child-star Ricky Schroder), who “made some bad choices” when the gloves transformed him from a plugger to a killer. Or that silly fez, once worn by naïve Eugene (Bart Johnson), whose initiation into the Benevolent Byzantine Order of Nobles of the Enigmatic Oracle—a faintly comical fraternal order whose well-connected members could offer an ambitious young man a leg up in the business word—takes a turn for the ugly when the words "blood" and "sacrifice" enter the boys'–club chit chat.

Other tchotchkes trigger the story of a would-be jumper (Alexander Polinsky) interrupted by a sleek stranger (Jason Marsden, who also directed the last segment) who, rather than trying to persuade him life is worth living, calmly talks him through doing suicide right, and the tale of a paid assassin (Rick Hoffman) who kidnapped three women (Marina Benedict, Krista Allen, Carmen Perez), one of whom hired him to murder a man with whom all were intimately involved.

Despite boasting five directors, eight writers and more than a dozen producers, Locker 13—partially financed with Kickstarter campaign—hangs together better than many anthology pictures. Yes, each segment is essentially a self-contained, one-act play, but the common theme (however obvious, and it is obvious; there are only so many ways to say "know thyself") and surprising consistent style (given the multiple cinematographers) provide continuity. Its other strong suit is the quality of the performances, courtesy of a cast filled with character actors whose combined credits are enough to make your eyes water and whose faces are just familiar enough to assure viewers that they’re in good hands.

Be advised: if you go in expecting an exercise in nerve-shredding, gut-testing horror or soft-core hijinks, you’ll be disappointed; R rating notwithstanding, guts, gore and gazongas are not the main event. Locker 13 has more in common with TV's “Night Gallery” (1970-73) than the Saw franchise, and while it never achieves the genre-defining highs of Dead of Night (1945), the elegance of Black Sabbath (1963), the pulp luridness of Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror (1972 and '73) or the addictive Karen Black-ness of cult classic Trilogy of Terror (1975), it's still well above the barrel-scraping lows of 1985's Night Train to Terror and Creepshow 3 (2007).
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Expedition to the End of the World
Film Review: Expedition to the End of the World

Artful doc provokes thought on a variety of subjects. More »

Winter in the Blood
Film Review: Winter in the Blood

An honorable if only intermittently satisfying attempt to access a journey that takes place almost entirely inside the protagonist's head. More »

Rabindranath Tagore
Film Review: Rabindranath Tagore: The Poet of Eternity

This lovingly intended but technically amateurish doc fails to do justice to its important subject. More »

Love is Strange
Film Review: Love is Strange

Ira Sachs’ sublimely told and beautifully acted contemporary romantic drama about an aging gay Manhattan couple hitting some unexpected choppy waters is the flip side of his dark, raw and daring Keep the Lights On but every bit as engaging. John Lithgow and Alfred Molina add complexity and class to a classy production that should resonate with quality-seeking filmgoers, gay or straight. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

If I Stay
Film Review: If I Stay

Delivers as promised. More »

The Expendables 3
Film Review: The Expendables 3

Third go-round for the aging mercenaries, this time fighting a ruthless arms dealer. Sylvester Stallone's B-movie formula is wearing thin. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here