Jeff Fahey and Mena Suvari in Locked In (Photo: Premiere Entertainment Group)

★½ (out of four)
DIRECTED BY Carlos V. Guttierez
STARS Mena Suvari, Jeff Fahey

Mena Suvari is best known for American Beauty. What we have with Locked In is an American bummer.

Shot and set in Pennsylvania, this stars Suvari as Maggie, a struggling single mom who’s trapped in a storage facility and forced to play a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with a pair of ruthless criminals (Jeff Fahey and Manny Perez). Complicating matters is the presence of her rebellious teenage daughter Tarin (Jasper Polish); potentially alleviating matters is the arrival of a client (Costas Mandylor) who happens to be an undercover cop.

The setting of a storage facility is inspired, but not enough is done to maximize its uniqueness — compare this to, say, Copshop, which managed to utilize a police station to imaginative advantage. Yet that’s ultimately a mere aside, since the real problem with the film is its roster of characters. Maggie is supposed to be the heroine, but she’s not a very bright (or even likable) one — a former addict who found God, she reveals herself to be a hypocrite early on, and her actions in a later scene directly cause the death of a genuinely heroic person. Another character is meant to provide quite the jolt when his/her true nature is revealed, but even a deaf mute could see that twist coming. And the conversations between characters often fail to convince — Maggie reveals details of her personal life to one of the violent crooks, but it’s scarcely credible that she would open up to him and the scene is obviously included just to provide audiences with an exposition dump (one of many).

Sloppiness permeates the entire project. A person runs directly toward a killer instead of in the opposite direction just so he can grab her and keep the plot moving. Maggie and Tarin each have a couple of opportunities to escape and alert the police but instead choose to remain simply to keep the plot moving. Maggie gets mad at a would-be protector for not doing things her way and conks him on the head as he’s going mano-a-mano with a killer! That one was needed to keep the plot moving as well.

At least the acting is solid, with the cast also helpfully answering a “Where Are They Now?” query — besides Suvari, other familiar performers include Fahey (The Lawnmower Man) and Mandylor (Picket Fences). But their combined best efforts aren’t enough to salvage this empty thriller.

(Locked In is available to stream on Amazon Prime, Vudu, and Apple TV+. It’s also available for purchase on DVD.)

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