The diverse and telling mistakes that repeatedly infiltrate people’s lives, even if they come from varied backgrounds and have different goals and opinions, is the all-too-important lesson that people are forced to accept as they ponder their own life choices. Since history does have a tendency to repeat itself, it’s wise for those struggling to make decisions to reflect on the consequences others faced when they were in the same position. That’s the all-too-important message in the new anthology thriller film, ‘Locker 13.’ The movie, which utilizes the ominous title object in the lessons of each of its shorts, is a surprisingly influential examination of how a person’s reckless actions can truly harm their lives, as well as the people around them, if they don’t reflect on the past faults of others.
‘Locker 13’s core story, ‘The Other Side,’ from helmer Donovan Montierth, follows Skip (Jason Spisak), a recently paroled prison inmate who tries to improve his life. Upon his release, Skip accepts a job as the nighttime janitor in an Old West theme park. While there, he delves into the mysteries surrounding an old locker, which he’s warned not to open by his perceptive supervisor, Archie (Jon Gries). As Skip prepares for his new job, his manager tells chilling tales that underscore the importance of making the right choice.
The stories Archie recounts to Skip include an aging boxer, Tommy Novak (Ricky Schroder), who is given an opportunity to become a real killing machine in the segment, ‘Down and Out,’ which was directed by Matthew Mebane. A young man, Eugene MacClemore (Bart Johnson), who seeks membership in a secret society, experiences an initiation with deadly consequences, in Bruce Dellis’ segment, ‘The Byzantine Order.’
In the next segment, Adam Montierth’s ‘Suicide Club,’ a man who thinks his only option is suicide, is shaken to his core by a menacing member of a very special club, and begins to ponder the importance of his life. Armando (Rick Hoffman), who’s featured in director Jason Marsden’s ‘The Author,’ is a hit man for hire who’s ready to write his memoirs. He plays a devious cat and mouse game with three women who have a score to settle against the same man, Harvey (Thomas Calabro). The pondering of the stories’ consequences suddenly comes into play after Skip has been working at the theme park for several days. He makes an unsettling discovery after he’s unable to stop thinking about his supervisor’s locker and looks inside. Skip faces a life-or-death decision of his own as he debates the true meaning of his life.
The compelling anthology thriller most captivatingly emphasized the all-important message Archie empathetically conveyed to the apprehensive Skip through its diverse and stylish cinematography the directors utilized in each short film. Mebane grippingly infused gritty, dark lighting into ‘Down and Out,’ which powerfully accentuated Tommy’s unease at his inability to control his rage in the ring. Meanwhile, with the high-tension exploration of how Eugene’s strong drive for power and influence chronicled in ‘The Byzantine Order,’ Dellis smartly instilled the story with close-up shots to capture the characters’ sordid expressions during the protagonist’s initiation.
Montierth and Marsden also smartly infiltrated ‘Suicide Club’ and ‘The Author’ with alluringly abrasive cinematography that powerfully, yet unforgivingly, thrust viewers into the disheartening, gloomy worlds of their characters. From the muted tones of ‘Suicide Club’ that effortlessly stressed the hopelessness of its depressed characters, to the glitzy, glamorous colors of ‘The Author,’ which showcased the fear of the women being held captive by the hit man, both shorts strongly alluded to the hopelessness people from all backgrounds of life feel.
‘Locker 13’ is a chilling and distressing exploration of the lengths people from all backgrounds will go to in order to obtain the life they’ve always dreamed and hoped for, but were unable to achieve. The cinematography from the anthology thriller’s short films most vividly and powerfully emphasize the horrifying lengths people would willingly put themselves through in order to secure their own happiness, and the dire consequences they must contend with as a result of their actions. While little about Archie’s background and motives is revealed in ‘The Other Side,’ the intriguing and surprisingly insightful character is the true epitome of the film’s all-too-important message that what initially may seem appealing and life-affirming may not be the best option for everyone. He truly pushes everyone to truly consider what the best course of action for them is to improve their life.