FEARNET Movie Review: 'Locker 13'


In theory, an anthology horror film should be a great way for some filmmakers to put together a half-decent horror movie. As the V/H/S films (and, to a lesser degree, The ABCs of Death) have indicated, if you have a few dedicated squads of filmmakers (and some decent story ideas, of course) you can sew some short videos together with a simple framing story, and voila, you have a solid horror film. Or at least an amusing one.

But what happens when people with very few ideas (and even fewer filmmaking skills) try the same formula? The result is something like Locker 13, a broad, obvious, and consistently tiresome collection of "campfire tales" that are about as scary as a half-eaten donut. Given the final product's drearily predictable format, its 20+ producers, and its handful of familiar character actors in very small roles, it seems like Locker 13 was a quickie affair for virtually all involved. But here's what we got:
Story #1 (aka "the wraparound") is about a guy showing another guy around an Old West tourist town. The setting serves no real purpose; one simply assumes that one of the myriad producers had access to a set that looks like an Old West tourist town. Occasionally the tour guide (the excellent character actor Jon Gries) will point to an item on a shelf, and just like that we're headed to...
Story #2! Rick Schroeder (one of those producers) plays a loser boxer who becomes a killer after receiving a pair of haunted gloves. Since Schroeder is a pretty good actor, and since this story also features some low-key work from the also great Jon Polito, this section isn't too bad. It actually packs a simple but ironic "punch" up until its abruptly disappointing finale.
(Back to the Old West tourist town for a bit more nonsense blather.)
Story #3 is about a secret group of suburban guys who may (or may not) be part of an actual cult of evil. Again we have a story that goes nowhere new, but there's some decent indie-level 1940s period design here, plus you'll catch a few moments from Curtis "Booger" Armstrong and the always evil David Huddleston as a devious ringleader in a wheelchair. Basic stuff, but not quite terrible.
(Quick commercial message from Old West tourist town.)
Story #4 is where Locker 13 starts to go completely off the rails. Here we have the overtly New Yorkian character actor Rick Hoffman (Hostel Part 2) sporting a Mexican accent that would make Speedy Gonzalez cringe with embarrassment. Hoffman is an assassin who aims to mentally torture three women in order to get the information he needs. Not only is this story completely pedantic and dreary, but Hoffman's thoroughly cartoonish accent kills any tension that may have arisen. 
(Back to you-know-where for a second. Don't forget about that Old West tourist town.)
Our final story, kinda, is about a guy who wants to kill himself, only to find himself talked out of it by a stranger with unknown motives. It's as boring as it sounds, and doubly predictable. And THEN we trek back to the Old West tourist town, once again, for (get this) a half-decent Twilight Zone-y story about an unhappy janitor who somehow makes contact with himself from 24 hours earlier. This segment is as choppy and overlit as the rest of the film, but at least it has a few nifty twists. 
The end result is a 95-minute anthology that somehow manages to feel about three hours long. That the filmmakers are going more for "ironic thriller" than full-bore "horror" is not the problem. The problem is that, aside from a few fleeting moments here and there, Locker 13 is aggressively generic from stem to stern. As a die-hard fan of the horror anthology film, I take no pleasure in stating that Locker 13's few stray glimmers of quality are not worth the slog it takes to find them.