Lockout is kind of an odd little movie. It's a low budget horror
film with a lot of things going on that don't seem to have much to do
with one another until the very end of the film. After a short
preliminary scene, the film kicks off with an ordinary white collar
man named Dan being dismissed from his firm after a decade of faithful service
because the business has changed and he's not willing to adapt. The
company needs multilingual personnel, or Americans willing to relocate
overseas to help teach English in their remote customer service
facilities. Dan speaks only English, and has no intention of leaving
the country, so he finds himself unemployed. He and his family own a
nice home in Chicago and an older place in East Nowhere, Wisconsin.
Since the Wisconsin house is not rentable, Dan decides to rent his
good Illinois property and move with his wife and sister-in-law to rural
Wisconsin, thus allowing them to survive without his lost income.
That part of the film is all pretty straightforward, with no real
horror elements, although Dan's sister-in-law seems to be a junkie
with a secret career as a professional dominatrix, and her episodes
provide a sinister undercurrent to an otherwise routine suburban
existence in the Chicago area.
Once the three of them arrive in Wisconsin, however, things get
strange fast. Lockout turns into an old school horror film. There are
no jokey sidekicks, comic relief, or CGI, but plenty of gore, sex and
gravitas. Dan and his sister-in-law seem to find themselves in the
middle of some creepy goings-on involving cannibalism, torture, inbred
mutants, bodies behind walls, mind control, immortals, mysterious
spiders, otherworldly hitchhikers, and God knows what else, all of
which has a surrealistic, "WTF?" quality to it, which makes the movie
mysterious, but also confusing and irritating at times.
As it turns out, there is a reasonable, if ambiguous and opaque,
explanation for what Dan and his family are going through, but the
clarification doesn't come out until a series of epilogues which
resolve matters by removing all the veils, in the manner of Angel
Heart. The events of the last ten minutes are over the top, but interesting and
fairly unexpected. Before that there are only sporadic pleasures. The
film really seems to wander afield from time to time, and I found my
interest level waxing and waning dramatically. I'd drift off during
some over-long element of seemingly unimportant exposition, then I'd
jump back at full attention during some very scary or creepy
individual moments. Although Lockout was made with a micro budget and
employs some actors whose delivery is so stiff as to break the
fourth wall, it does have a reasonably intriguing air of mystery about
it, and a creepy ambiance driven by effective background music. I'll
also grant it a few extra points for originality. Many low budget
straight-to-DVD films are just lesser versions of more famous previous
films, but this film is fresh. It has some elements which you've seen
before, but it also has its own unique presence, for better or worse.
Given the limitations of the cast and budget, I'd say the director got
some pretty good mileage out of some low octane fuel.
I can see why the IMDb score is low because the entire project
gives off kind of an amateurish home-movie vibe, but it's not a bad
flick. It drags in spots, but it
gives off a sense that there is an excellent film, in the manner of
Angel Heart, lurking somewhere inside, like a tapeworm. If only there
had been enough money to lure it out.