Only those scared of being bored to death need fear “Locker 13,” an omnibus of horror stories that could hardly be more tame, talky and tepid, both individually and as a whole. This feature from Arizona collective Brothers’ Ink Prods. — some of its segments originally shot as shorts four to seven years ago — makes its theatrical and VOD bows March 28, with DVD release following April 29. In any format, it’s bound to raise the hackles of any genre fans unlucky enough to pay money in the hopes of some entertainment value.
The framing story features Jason Spisak as Skip, an ex-con newly hired as night janitor at a Wild West theme park. As he’s shown around the grounds, he has to listen to old-hand supervisor Archie (Jon Gries) windbag out some tales about “choices” and “consequences,” though danged if viewers will be able to discern the lesson, or simply the point, from any of them.
First, Ricky Schroder plays a washed-up boxer who becomes all too brutally effective in the ring after a mysterious stranger gives him a special set of gloves. Then, Bart Johnson is a new invitee into a seemingly harmless fraternal order whose initiation takes a sinister turn. A troubled young man (Alexander Polinsky) steels himself for a suicidal jump off a building roof, but is interrupted by an interloper (Jason Marsden) who wants to help him — to off himself with more panache, that is. A hitman (Rick Hoffman) interrogates three captive women (Krista Allen, Marina Benedict and Carmen Perez) to find out which one hired him to kill the man who was their husband, lover and boss, respectively. Finally, Skip disregards some orders from Archie to his grief, discovering a parallel world in which a doppelganger is living his life with a 24-hour time difference.
These tales all end with a whimper, either of the “so what?” or “huh?” variety, and none take their derivative ideas anywhere interesting before then. The more strenuous performances feel like acting-class exercises, whipping up an intensity not at all justified by such weak material. There’s some familiar talent here, several names working in uncustomary roles behind the camera. But no one’s effort pays off — least of all for the few actresses, whose function in this boys’-club filmmaking endeavor is pitiful and embarrassing.
Tech and design contributions are adequate. But “Locker 13” (lockers with that number figure in most of the stories, for no reason other than to provide some faint linkage) is so lamely conceived that it lacks even the stimulus of unintentional laughs. In that respect it’s certainly no “Night Train to Terror” (1985), the all-time omnibus camp gem awkwardly sewn together from the discarded parts of orphaned horror projects. The R rating is a bit of a mystery, given that there’s scant cursing or graphic violence here.