Thursday, January 05, 2023

LandLocked: Analog Media Strikes Again

Is there a more frightening prospect than watching a stranger’s home movies? At least Paul Owens never breaks out the old school slide tray. To be fair, he puts his father’s old VHS camcorder footage to creative use, achieving a Boyhood-like effect in LandLocked, which releases tomorrow in theaters and on-demand.

As he explains in a video tape, Mason’s father arranged to have their old family home demolished a year after his death. It is still packed with the memories and detritus of the years they spent living there, so Mason has come to pick over whatever might be worth taking. While rummaging, he comes across a camcorder that mysteriously records scenes from their past.

Despite visits from his brothers, Mason becomes increasingly obsessed with revisiting and capturing the past. It seems like their family history was mostly happy, but there are hints of something ominous lingering over the house. Something bad must have happened, right? Why else would his father want it razed to the ground?

There are a few scenes of some kind of supernatural or fantastical something. However,
LandLocked is mostly about mundane ghosts—the artefacts and stains that stubbornly persist, reminding us of the past. It is a thoughtful genre film, but Owens (screenwriter-director-cinematographer-everything else) sometimes gets lost down the same rabbit hole as his protag (and real-life brother). Nevertheless, the marriage of the vintage home movies with the original footage is eerily realistic. It is more than “found footage,” but it is more believable than most found footage films.

All the junk in the house is also so eerily realistic, viewers will often feel pawing through the Owens family’s closets and basement. Presumably, Owens made several runs to Salvation Army and de-cluttered all his family’s homes.

is an unusually personal horror (-ish) film. It is also strangely quiet. Anyone counting on jump scares to keep them focused should maybe watch it with a cup of coffee, but it rewards viewers’ investment. Recommended for those who appreciate its ambition and distinctive vibe, LandLocked releases tomorrow (1/6) in theaters and on VOD.