It’s always interesting seeing actors play against type. Sure, it doesn’t always work out; Hugh Grant as that cannibal in Cloud Atlas and whatever Jim Carey was doing in The Number 23 stand out as bad examples. But there is always that sense of ‘well at least they tried’ about it. Not many actors can break type, and even fewer can change into a vast amount of characters like a chameleon does with its skin. Very evidently, Tim McInnerny is one such actor. It was bizarre seeing a man who I grew up watching on BlackAdder staring in something like Lock In. But, like the short itself, he did not disappoint.
The eleven-minute-long Lock In follows the story of a landlord and his pregnant daughter, who are forced to deal with a possibly dangerous stranger who enters their pub after hours. From the very first minute, the man proves himself to be hostile and vindictive towards the pair of them. They cannot leave, as he makes them aware that his friends are waiting for them outside. What the stranger says to them and about them is unthinkable, monstrous and could be nothing but a lie. Or could it be true?
The acting alone was enough to carry this short along. It’s superb. Every emotion known to anyone is displayed within such a short amount of time, all in one location and seemingly in only one scene. McInnerny, Nicholas Pinnock and Lucy Boynton were all perfectly cast can gave their all. It’s not that obvious going for attention acting either. It’s all very subtle, the emotions of the characters are used to carry the film along – this is how it should be, and the actors and director were fully aware of this.
Huge praise must be given to director Neville Pierce, director of the short Bricks. Not only did he have great working relations with his actors, he also had a good eye for shot and sound execution. Everything fits together perfectly. The shots are perfect and are edited together at the perfect moments. The sound is loud when it needs to be and quiet when it needs to be. The music did everything it needed to, to suck me into the film. Everything is used exactly how it needs to be. It’s even the perfect length. Just half a minute longer would have spoilt it, as would half a minute shorter.
The story itself does take some dark turns, bringing up such sensitive subjects as child abuse and molestation. This is usually a topic that gets under my skin very easily – it’s why I will never watch films like Spotlight or shows like the apparently excellent National Treasure (which I’m aware also starred McInnerny). But here it didn’t bother me. That’s partially because it’s all handled with respect, but mostly because, while it’s a central part to the story, it’s not the theme of the film. The theme of the film is perception, and the power of perception.
The whole short provides many great examples of this, the most obvious being the film’s start and end. Where we believe that a man has come to harm two innocents, but then becomes a more twisted tale, where our views on characters change. This point does make it interesting to watch twice for certain. But what I loved most was that the film opens and closes on a framed photo – the very first shot and the very last shot are of this photo. This was masterful. It feels like a simple establishing shot at first but come the end it’s true purpose is made clear, and you will never look at it the same way again, having viewed it from a different perception.
There really is nothing to fault with Lock In. It’s a simple story, but a great idea. It has a great theme and executes it in a very unique way. It’s one I’d recommend, provided that people were aware that it is a dark tale. Being so short does make it an easy watch. It’s perfect for what it is, and what it is is thought provoking and thrilling all at once.
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