Cornered (2010) is a horror thriller set exclusively in a convenience store. Aside from a few minor scares, and some nicely done gore shots, there's not a lot to recommend about this rather lackluster slasher. Things do improve slightly, when the action finally steps up at the end, but it's not enough to save this very poorly written effort. Spoilers follow, so stop here if you must.
Steve (Eduardo Antonio Garcia) owns a liquor store in Los Angeles, and lives above it on the second floor. The big story on the news concerns the "convenience store killer", a madman who has been butchering store employees and patrons, and then stealing any security video tapes that capture his crimes. Steve and his employee Donny (Peter Story), his nephew Jimmy (James Duval), and his friends Mona Moore (Ellia English) and Jess (Elizabeth Nicole), are in the store with delivery guy Morty (Steve Guttenberg), discussing what they would do to the killer, who has a $500,000 bounty on his head.
After Morty leaves, Steve closes up and the gang heads upstairs to play some poker. While the game is in progress, the killer enters the store, and begins killing the occupants in the same way that they had described they would kill him. Due to some ridiculous circumstances, the occupants find themselves locked inside the building, and it takes quite a while before they finally realize they are trapped with a killer.
Cornered has many ridiculous situations, and telegraphs its "surprise" ending. The characters aren't exactly brilliant, and the dialog is generally awful. Not making a serious effort to get out of the building, is completely lame. They also fail to restore electrical power when it goes out, and don't even arm themselves after they have seen their friend butchered with a saw, by a man wearing a mask. Having no working cell phones available is a stretch, but Steve running his business without a phone has no credibility. The way the characters behave when the killer is coming for them, also doesn't ring true. When Morty arrives to make a delivery, he enters the store, and proceeds to barricade in the killer using empty cardboard boxes!
With little action actually occurring onscreen, much time is spent on character development. Ellia English is animated and mildly amusing as Mona, someone who earns her living talking dirty performing phone sex. The slightly overweight "Donut" Donny is a likeable guy, who almost becomes a hero. Although being known mostly for consuming donuts, isn't exactly an example of inspired writing. Jess who is a prostitute, is easily the most likeable character, and she is featured in the film's most memorable scenes. With her looks, making money shouldn't be a problem, but apparently it is. Her relationship with Donny is unspecified, and a little baffling. Steve is perhaps the most stereotyped of all the characters, and Eduardo Antonio Garcia does a good job playing this man, who has problems running his business, yet has some esoteric ideas about how to make money. The worst scenes in the film involve the drug dependent Jimmy, who also has a problem dealing with roaches. He devotes almost as much time playing scenes with roaches as with people. Spending money to show roaches, instead of delivering spectacular kills, seems questionable in a slasher film. Steve Guttenberg, easily the most well-known among the cast, appears to be slumming a bit here. He's in the film only at the beginning, and the very end. With such brief screen time, what happens with his character isn't that hard to predict.
Co-written and directed by Daniel Maze, Cornered is unfortunately not the clever little film that it has aspirations of being. Maze clearly demonstrates some talent as a filmmaker (and brewer?), but it's also clear that his writing skills need some work. The film benefits from some nice gore effects, like a cleaver in the neck, a severed head, and decorated corpses. The production values however are uneven, as the movie has a horrible looking yellow tone at the beginning, and grungy looking shots inside the store and Steve's rundown living room. While not a very thoughtful slasher, Cornered may have some appeal to fans of the genre. Overall it's a little below average, rating 2.5 stars.