LOCKED IN by writer/director Carlos V. Gutierrez --- A Thriller About Lurking Greed - AmNews Curtain Raiser


Tuesday, April 12, 2022

LOCKED IN by writer/director Carlos V. Gutierrez --- A Thriller About Lurking Greed

LOCKED IN by writer/director Carlos V. Gutierrez --- A Thriller About Lurking Greed

A single mother must protect her daughter and herself during a heist gone wrong at a high-tech storage facility. This is at the core of writer/director Carlos V. Gutierrez’s “Locked In.”  There have been several short films, and movies with the same title (Locked In) so in your search, remember to add a high-tech storage facility. This is at the core of writer/director Carlos V. Gutierrez’s “Locked In” if you are looking to watch this film.

Clearly shot on a budget most of the scenes take place inside a nondescript storage facility run by Lee (Bruno Bichir) and his only employee Maggie (Mena Suvari), who is accidentally locked in a unit, which jumps kicks her claustrophobia. 

Ms. Maggie has a few problems but the biggest dilemma is financial; made worse by her never seen, but often discussed, husband serving time for armed robbery. With him behind bars, she’s the only one to care for their teen daughter Tarin (Jasper Polish), who seems to have a knack for illegal behavior and may be following in her old dad’s footsteps — which seems to be manifesting in her love of 


Naturally, Ms. Maggie’s challenges are escalated when, after witnessing Lou behaving oddly with an angry customer, Harris (Costas Mandylor) discovers that her boss has a hidden lockbox full of cash.  And what does Ms. Maggie need, money, that’s what! Ahh, the temptation to dip into that cash, so she 

visits the storage unit and winds up in the middle of a heist-gone-wrong being attempted by Ross (Manny Perez) and Mel (Jeff Fahey), desperate to pocket 

A pouch of stolen diamonds they were having Lee fence. 

As the plot thickens — naturally — things get violent and bloody and the thieves soon become aware of Maggie and Tarin’s presence and enlist them to help them locate the goods.

With Maggie’s cell phone disconnected, most of the communication is embellished by people watching — and speaking to — others through the building’s security camera feeds and intercoms because the phone lines aren’t working. 

“Locked In” definitely set it up for Ms. Maggie, and Tarin, to escape which added tension to the action-drama but then the director sabotaged it by allowing the characters to engage in some “not-so-smart” ways.

As a director, Gutierrez does seem to be having a lot of fun, and coupled with DP,  Sam Brave’s cinematography and Carlos José Alvarez’s score this is a watchable film with some solid, visual, and audio payoff. 

But I can’t speak to the strength of the screenplay but there are solid casting choices one being Fahey (as, the character Mel) who moves through the story with enough implied danger to keep the viewer on their toes, so to speak. 

In the end, all of the key characters turn out to be some sort of thief which does help move a thriller along. 

In the press notes, Carlos V. Gutierrez offered this explanation: 

“I wanted to make a modern film noir using a very compressed story that takes place in one night pitting a mother against a pair of vicious thieves.  My desire to make this film comes from wanting to explore themes of morality and ethics and how far one is willing to go to protect their family. The story asks these questions to the audience while entertaining them with a suspenseful & gripping set of events. Besides the female protagonist who is forced to protect her daughter, what interested me in the project was the unique location -- a self-storage building. These buildings are unique structures found in every major city but are often overlooked. I was fascinated by the threat of violence being so close to spaces where people keep some of their most prized possessions. The innate curiosity we have all felt going into one of these self-storage buildings further fueled my desire to write the story. Ultimately, the film should be an exciting ride that makes the audience ask: what would I do if put in that situation? Would I turn my back on my morals and ethics or would I stand firm in the face of violence?”


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