Reviewed by: JimmyO
What's it about
When a group of misfits at a liquor store gather together for a game of poker, they find that they are not alone. One by one somebody is out to kill each of them, with ideas inspired by the victims themselves.
Is it good movie?
Daniel Maze had a pretty good idea when he made Cornered!. This horror/comedy set in a liquor store starts off by focusing on the characters first and foremost. In many ways, you’d be hard pressed to call it a horror film for the first half hour or so. Among the denizens of this cockroach infested establishment is the store owner Steve (Eduardo Antonio Garcia) and his crew of misfits and working stiffs. Indie hero James Duval shows up as a junkie afraid of insects named Jimmy. Peter Story plays Donny, the overweight fella who eats too many donuts. Elizabeth Nicole plays Jess, a hooker with rent to pay. And finally there is Ellia English as Mona, a phone sex operator with a weakness for ice cream. But wait… there is one more, a fellow that all fans of Police Academy and Cocoon will recognize, Steve Guttenberg as a delivery man named Morty.
I’m heard a lot of complaints about this being too slow and sort of boring in the beginning, but personally I found it sort of refreshing. I’m not saying that there is some deep soul searching going on when it came to character development, but I was happy to get to know these oddballs. And the fact that they were real people, not just nubile teens looking to get high and get naked, made for an interesting twist. Not that the whole getting high and getting naked is a bad thing in a horror film, but it is always nice to see a different approach. The reason all these people are locked inside the store makes sense (for the most part), as they are all gathered for poker after the store is closed. The script attempts to make their reasons believable, and oftentimes it works. I liked the fact that the murders take some time to happen, and I also appreciated the reason the killer chose to do what he eventually does to his victims. I also liked the fact that the “last one standing” is not really who you’d expect it to be.
While the first half of the film spends a little quality time with the killer’s prey, the last half slowly moves into more traditional hack and slash. As I mentioned, it occasionally breaks with tradition and sends somebody unexpected to their demise, but on that same note, there is something much too predictable. It is not at all hard to figure out who is doing the menacing. For a movie that plays the mystery, there was very little of that going on here. And sadly, the same goes for the victims as well, apparently nobody has ever heard that you shouldn’t go off on your own when there is a serial killer loose. And I also found it very irritating that they are in a liquor store and not once did somebody pick up a bottle or something else that could be used as a weapon. Fight back people! The only person breaking a bottle was the killer. And as much as I liked the characters here, I was definitely frustrated that they seemed a little too nonchalant that something bad could happen. Seriously, they live in a city that has to be locked up with bars on the windows. Have they never been robbed?
But even with the predictable nature of Cornered!, I really respected the fun that was put back into this particular slasher film. They clearly wanted to make an old-school flick and they pretty much succeeded. Bad and good, they used elements of the genre that aren’t touched too much nowadays. As far as the humor is concerned, it works well enough. I loved the fact that the word “cornered” appears during the movie thanks product placement. In fact, I enjoyed a bunch of what happens on screen, even some of the flaws. And that was what made the film work. I had a really good time watching this for the most part, even if I knew exactly where it was going. I also liked the fact that visually, Maze had the sense to use shadow and color to highlight some of the tension that builds when one of these morons takes a walk when they know they probably shouldn’t.
Video / Audio
Hey, check this out, Steve Guttenberg’s in a horror flick. Who knew? Well, surprisingly, it isn’t too bad of one. While the first half of Cornered! spends some time hanging out with the characters, the last half shifts into faceless stalker flick mode. I liked the actors and I liked how Daniel Maze told his story aside from the obvious direction the film headed. There is a good visual sense here, and it holds up the suspense quota. Yet the predictable nature of the killer and why and how he is doing what he does dampens the excitement a bit. But if you are a slasher film fan, you might enjoy this unconventionally cast flick that still knows that horror can be entertaining.