Lock In Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Available on VHX here: http://lockin.vhx.tv/
Written and Directed by Mark J. Howard
2014, 79 minutes, Not Rated
Available on VOD now
Roy Basnett as John
Jessica Cunningham as Jenny
Stephen Greenhalgh as Cyclops
James Thompson as Colin
As far as horror film antagonists go, clowns are surprisingly thin on the ground. With just a bit of makeup, some big shoes and a scary grin, they’re one of the easier monsters to have stalking your horror film, budget or no. And yet there are less than you’d think, with only IT and Ross Noble’s Stitches representing the cause. Well, Tim Curry has some mighty big shoes to fill. Big shoes, geddit. Because he’s a clown.
Giving it a shot is Lock In, a no-budget British independent feature, covering up its lack of funds with a thick layer of greasepaint and some surprisingly polished performances. Opening with the molestation of its heroine in a pub toilet, Lock In aims for unpleasantness and hits that note almost straight away. I have never been a fan of rape as a device in horror films, but it’s handled in such a manner that it doesn’t feel gratuitous or completely unnecessary. Years later, Jenny is working as a well-paid advertising executive under an abusive, shouty boss. Leered at and groped by the pervy handyman and threatened with sacking if she doesn’t hit an important deadline, the poor girl is having one of the worst days of her life. And the night doesn’t go much better either.
Working late with only the inept security guards for company, Jenny comes face to face with her greatest fear as a murderous clown invades the building. It’s a fine premise for a low-budget horror film, with a sympathetic lead, handful of memorable supporting characters, good setting and a promising villain. Sadly, like so many other low-budget horror films, it squanders most of that promise on padding and overlong dialogue sequences.
The sharp HD visuals and not-that-bad script cover up some of the flaws, but there comes a point where you’ll realise that it doesn’t have all that much going on besides. The clown takes far too long to appear, with most of the time being spent with Jenny’s awful boss, the irritating security guards and weird handyman (because people with facial disfigurements are always creepy and weird) instead. Then, when the clown does appear, he’s not even that scary looking.
Perhaps that’s why we see fewer clowns than we’d expect in our horror cinema. Do it right, and you’ll be terrifying audiences for years to come. Do it wrong, and all you have is a buffoon in white makeup, lipstick and silly trousers. It’s a fine line, and for every Northampton Clown or Pennywise, there’s a dozen more Krustys and Ronald McDonalds. Sadly, the villain of Lock In is more in the latter camp, regularly failing to bring the requisite scares. No doubt those with coulrophobia will disagree, but everyone else is likely to be disappointed.
“We all float down here,” snarls Pennywise, in IT’s most memorable scene, cementing his position as cinema’s most terrifying clown. Lock In, on the other hand, is sadly destined to sink without a trace.