Lock Up


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Lock Up
"What ought to be familiar is transformed into unknown, unknowable territory, the domain of some other."

It has been described as humanity's most primal fear, the fear of the dark. In this tiny short, we follow a businessman as he walks through his premises alone, turning out the lights, to lock up for the night. As each light clicks out, he is further immersed in blackness. What ought to be familiar – the part of the building we have already seen – is transformed into unknown, unknowable territory, the domain of some other.

More of a sketch than a complete film, Lock Up explores this simple idea at the most basic level. A brief phone conversation between the man and his family is the only character development we get. Josh Burdett makes an adequate lead but doesn't provide us with much more sense of who this person is. Perhaps leaving him blank is intentional, a device meant to make it easier for us to project ourselves into the picture. The narrow corridors make the setting claustrophobic; their ordinariness makes it easy to identify with the situation.

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It's an interesting idea let down by a heavy handed soundtrack. The problem isn't simply the cheesy music that overwhelms the film's stripped-down sinister aesthetic; it's the obligatory something-is-out-there noises that break the mood by provoking laughter. This also interferes with the plot. It's the man's job to take care of these premises. If he thinks somebody is in there, why doesn't he investigate or call the police? His nervous avoidance of the matter starts too early to be convincing; paranoia associated with the dark hasn't yet had time to cast its spell. Though the film recovers from this to a degree, it does it too late, and by then we're not taking it seriously enough to be properly scared.

Technically accomplished though it is, Lock Up is a film that depends on a very precise balancing act and doesn't quite pull it off.

Reviewed on: 23 Mar 2013
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As a man turns out he lights and closes his business premises for the night, he gets the feeling that something is watching him from the shadows.

Director: Ben Kent

Writer: Ben Franklin

Starring: Josh Burdett

Year: 2011

Runtime: 4 minutes

Country: UK


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