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“LOCKER 13″ (Movie Review)

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Anthology films often have a higher potential as entertainment, as a bad anthology may still be creatively wealthy or have solid segments to counteract other weak entries. Alternately, a good anthology contains enough surprises, finesse and variety to keep the audience engaged and thrilled from start to finish. Best of all, the low-budget of each segment poses a challenge to the filmmakers to operate in specific confines and often offers cinematic voices at their most raw.

What makes LOCKER 13 stand out are the departures it makes from the conventional anthology format. While most assign their wraparound segments as mere narrative framework, LOCKER 13 fashions the wraparound as a full-fledged story of its own. Furthermore, LOCKER 13 doesn’t ape inspirations or predecessors, offering tonal connective tissue rather than material or style. The film also isn’t interested in going for nightmarish bleakness, instead diverting its attention toward creepiness and intrigue over sheer brutality.

LOCKER 13 is not the perfect anthology however, as more than a few segments have egregious anticlimaxes and the stories seem more focused on performances than storytelling needs. Furthermore, the pacing is slightly off. Segments such as “The Suicide Club” run noticeably short, while the latter half of the film is completely enveloped by “The Other Side.” Luckily, these are never overly distracting, as the film mostly succeeds in drawing suspense and dark humor throughout each segment.

Director Matthew Mebane does an effective job with John Waldron and Cameron Young’s “Down and Out,” using stellar editing and strong performances to pull off Faustian terror in the bloody world of boxing. Jason Marsden and Adam Montierth do excellent work with “The Author” and “The Suicide Club” respectively, staging what could ostensibly be chilling one-act plays. In contrast, Bruce Dellis and Donovan Montierth handle the longest two segments, “The Byzantine Order” and “The Other Side”, and both make the best of dark comedy and the ominous dangers of their narrative.

LOCKER 13 also carries a diverse amount of excellent character actors, each playing to their strengths. Ricky Schroder and Jason Spisak both play good guys caught in desperate situations, and they sell their roles convincingly. Jason Marsden, David Huddleston and Rick Hoffman all add smarm to their respective creeps, and comic relief throughout the segments comes in the form of the reliable Curtis Armstrong and a surprisingly modest Jon Gries. Perhaps the most surprising performance comes from Krista Allen, whose scorned wife role evokes an emotional and grounded performance that one might not expect.

Occasionally problematic, LOCKER 13 makes up for its weaknesses with good performances, intriguing stories and an unconventional approach to its segments. The film isn’t necessarily for gorehounds, but for horror fans who prefer suspense over splatter, the five segments here should do the trick.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Web Content Manager for FANGORIA, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, a graphic novel and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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