Greetings again from the darkness. The first feature film from writer-director Carlos V Gutierrez is a B-movie thriller with the rare cinematic setting of a self-storage facility. Now you might think corrugated metal doors on rollers and concrete walkways don’t add up to an exciting and picturesque filming location, and, well, you’d be right. However, Gutierrez uses the security cameras and maze-like corridors to generate some suspense, and he benefits from a cast that draws out every possible ounce of tension from the script.
Mena Suvari (from Best Picture winner AMERICAN BEAUTY, 1999) stars as Maggie, an employee at the storage facility, and mother to teenage daughter Tarin (Jasper Polish, THE ASTRONAUT FARMER, 2006). Mother and daughter are living in a rundown motel, and are about to be evicted due to non-payment. There is some family baggage here, as the husband/father is in prison, and Maggie is focused on finding religion to get beyond her checkered past. The last thing she needs is a night like she’s about to experience.
Bruno Bichir (younger brother of Oscar nominated Demian Bichir) plays Lee, Maggie’s boss who expertly plays the nice guy, while being a bit too obvious at keeping his own dark secrets. The film opens with the tail end of a diamond heist by two masked men, one who has an overactive trigger finger. Of course, the two thieves have a tie to Lee, and things go sideways quickly. Maggie and Tarin are trapped in a game of cat-and-mouse, and they don’t initially understand why. Multiple bad guys enter the picture, and Maggie leaps into protective-mother mode while dealing with Ross (Manny Perez) and Mel (Jeff Fahey), the masked men from the diamond heist. Fahey is always a fun bad guy to watch, and this time is no exception. Soon, a third party enters the scene – Harris (Costas Mandylor from the “Saw” franchise), creating an even more tangled web of deceit and danger.
The film leans a bit heavy on crying and tough guy posturing, but it also makes clever use of the security cameras, the stark corridors, and even candy wrappers. The movie succeeds at being what it is: a creative low-budget thriller with an entertaining cast.