I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
Oh, Rod Serling, what you wrought with your Twilight Zone. You might have some apologizing to do if you hadn’t been so darn effective at prodding, with spooky insight, the underbelly of human fears and desires. Then again, it’s because you were so darn good that, decades later, that we are still subject to the creative undertakings of filmmakers who think they are worthy to follow in your footsteps. Here we have an anthology of vaguely scary, sorta suspenseful, kinda ooky stories that are nowhere near as clever as they think they are, very loosely connected by a framing story that sees the manager of an Old West theme park (Jon Gries: Taken 2) showing his new night janitor (Jason Spisak) the ropes as he relates cautionary tales about men who behave badly. There’s a boxer (Rick Schroder: Get Him to the Greek) who comes into possession of a pair of magical boxing gloves that help him win, but at what cost? There’s a man (Bart Johnson: High School Musical 3: Senior Year) about to join a lodge of men who wear fezzes and facing a dire initiation. There’s a hitman (Rick Hoffman: Battleship) going to extreme lengths to find out who hired him for a job. There’s a distraught man (Jason Marsden: Monsters University) about to commit suicide who finds that maybe he doesn’t want to die after all. And then there’s the janitor himself, who is perhaps supposed to have taken some sort of lesson from these stories as he confronts his own personal weirdness… which never has anything to do with Old West-ness, so the setting is never more than a gimmick that isn’t even taken advantage of. (Women are barely present in a few of the stories, though the more volition they have, the more they are punished for it. Now that’s scary, guys. But not very original.) There’s a locker labeled “13” in each of the stories, but they aren’t the same locker, so it’s not like there’s a malevolent locker causing trouble, and lockers aren’t exactly inherently chilling, but I guess the number 13 is, right? If you’ve never seen an episode of The Twilight Zone, or you’re not too particular about Zone-ish retreads being so memorable that they might keep you awake at night, have at it. Nothing here is terribly haunting, and some of it actively works against making sense. But at least someone is trying to make something like a horror movie these days that isn’t about buckets of gore and inventive torture. Let us be thankful for small favors.