STUDIO: Phase 4 Films
MSRP: $16.99
RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes
•    Behind the Scenes

The Pitch
Fear Steve Guttenberg! More than usual!

The Humans
Steve Guttenberg, James Duval, Ellia English
Director: Daniel Maze
Writer: Darrin Grimwood, Daniel Maze

The Nutshell
There is not enough Guttenberg in this bland slasher flic about a poker game that is slowly losing members to, um… [insert hilarious poker pun]. Boom! Zing! *raises roof*

“This is the horror movie you chose, Guttenberg?!
You said you’d help me get Chopping Mall remade! I need work too, man!”

The Lowdown
A serial killer has been plaguing local convenience stores, which is of particular interest to the sitcom-grade assortment of employees and regulars at the film’s one and only location: a seedy liquor shop. They’re all lowlifes, but in the cleanest and least harmful of ways. It’s like Barbershop, only with more murder and less Keith David. Our players include: the surly Owner, the deadbeat Clerk, the lovable Fat Guy who’s job I couldn’t figure out, the Sassy Lady regular, and the unrealistically sensible hot Hooker who hangs out with these people for some reason.

So they’re hangin’ out, as they presumably do everyday, when a delivery man (the Gutte) overhears them talking about the serial killer. The Gutte engages them in a conversation where each member describes how they’d kill the serial killer if they got the chance. Then the Gutte leaves. Gee, wonder if we’ll be seeing him again at some point. Nah, probably not. Once the store is closed our group settles in for a friendly game of midnight poker. But soon a Slasher in a gimp bondage mask shows up and begins killing them as they wander off for various reasons… killing them in the exact ways they said they’d kill the killer! The irony! Wait… you don’t think the delivery man… nah. He’s gone. Never to return.

Lovable fat moron? Hot prostitute? Poker game? I smell sitcom!
We’ll call it Poke Her! Tagline: He likes donuts, she fucks guys for money! Gold!

I’m generally a fan of movies with exclamation points in the title. It’s just so exciting! And it usually means there will be singing and dancing. Cornered! doesn’t earn that ! though. It’s a well put together film; competent directing and a mostly decent script (for the genre), but it simply doesn’t deliver as a Slasher movie. The kill scenes are fun enough, but are very short, low on gore, and few and far between. The film is otherwise preoccupied with uninteresting bickering and middling attempts at banter and wacky character moments. I’m willing to overlook half-assed dialogue and illogical behavior in a horror movie, but only in small doses. Cornered! has too much. It is off-balanced, which leaves it exposed to criticism as a non-horror film (something most horror films should avoid).   

Having to justify why a cell phone doesn’t work is the bane of modern horror movies. There is almost no way to pull it off without eliciting an eye-roll. It’s best to just make it as quick as possible – “Oh, no, I’m out of juice!” – and then move on. We all know it needs to be done, and we horror fans can be a forgiving lot. Cornered! manages to have too many phone excuses to ignore. Every other second we got some new logic jump. So why can’t our Barbershop players call for help?

1) Hooker left her phone in a john’s car.
2) Fat Guy fell on his phone and crushed it. (pft! typical fat guy move)
3) Sassy Lady can only receive incoming calls because of her fantasyland phone plan.
4) Owner threw Clerk’s phone out window when he got mad.
5) Owner doesn’t own a cell.
6) The store’s landline was cut off because Owner didn’t pay the bill.

“Oh God! I just remembered I was in Doom Generation!
Oh God, there was a scene in that film where the dude from That Thing You Do ate his own cum!
And why did I watch the director’s cut of Donnie Darko!
How does a director not understand his own film? Oh God!”

The cast is solid. Presumably they were drawn in by all the talkin’ in the script, thinking “This isn’t like most Slasher movies!” and not realizing that means the intended audience won’t like it. James Duval (as the Clerk) is always reliable for druggy weirdos. Peter Story, as the lovable Fat Guy, is suitably lovable; kind of a poor man’s Kevin James. Elizabeth Nicole’s cleavage should’ve received top billing, as it was the best part of the film. And Guttenberg… Guttenberg Guttenberg Guttenberg… something happened to Guttenberg’s face. I can’t quite place what, but it is off. He’s just not the same. He was great in an episode of this season’s Party Down though, so I’ll give him a pass. He was barely in the film anyway. Those hoping to throw back some beers and crack jokes at the expense of the Gutte should look elsewhere (maybe dig up a VHS of Don’t Tell Her It’s Me).

There was one bit in the movie I liked (it helped that Nicole’s cleavage was present, I’m sure). A tedious gag early in the film involved learning that Sassy Lady’s job was as a sex hotline gal; the gag being that she was repeatedly giving dirty talk on the phone while playing poker and conversing with the rest of the gang. Then, during the final stages of the film when Hooker and Fat Guy are hiding from the killer, they find Sassy Lady’s phone and are overjoyed when someone calls it (remember, it only received incoming calls). Hooker tries valiantly to get the person to call the police but they think it is just part of the sex hotline role-playing. That was funny.

Hey, why don’t   we  3 da ;adin.0  d s a;f dd3-][\
Oops. Sorry. I stopped looking at what I was typing for some reason.

Too bad. Cornered! could’ve been saved by better pacing and having more fun and splattery kills. The climax is a bit of a surprise and nicely done, but by then I just didn’t care anymore. Worst of all, despite changing my religion several times, praying and making numerous offerings to a variety of gods and great old ones, Nicole never even strips down to so much as her bra. Why Elizabeth Nicole’s cleavage? Why do you hurt me this way?

Cornered! is an okay movie, all things considered. But there is no reason for you to see it.

The Package
Picture and sound were all nice. The Behind the Scenes featurette is well put together and I’m sure would be interesting to someone who enjoyed the film.

4.3 out 10