Although Locked In is arriving on DVD in 2014, the film has a 2010 release date on IMDb, when it played at a single film festival. Watching it, it's unsurprising that the film languished on the shelf for four years, as it's a decidedly uninspired thriller. Veteran television and film director Suri Krishnamma offers competent execution of the script, but there's no imagination or energy to the movie, which hardly seems committed to its own ideas. Also mentioned on IMDb: an 85-minute runtime, yet the DVD version only runs 78. The difference suggests someone hacked a few minutes out of the film for pacing reasons in hopes of rehabilitating it for release, but the movie still shuffles so listlessly toward the finish line that it feels longer than its original length.
The most interesting thing about the film is Krishnamma's direction, which is intentionally disorienting. He uses the edges of the frame to cut off and fragment his characters, as a parallel to their state of mind. The film has a non-linear narrative, jumping back and forth through Josh and Emma's troubled home life and his affair with Renee at random times. Josh is staying in a dingy motel instead of living at home, and I'm pretty sure Krishnamma intentionally shoots flashback scenes of Josh in the hotel in the exact same way as scenes set in the present day, which gives the film the sense that time is all running together. It's occasionally interesting, but it can also be irritating, especially Krishnamma's insistence on constant, drifting camera movement.
The film also boasts decent performances by its lead actors. Barnes is a relatively fresh face, an actor without an established persona, and combined with his character's constant confusion, his actions feel unpredictable as a result. The script lets Josh off the hook a bit too much; it's hard to believe such a gentle guy would cheat on his wife, and he seems dazed as he's doing the deed. However, that same sweetness is crucial to what measure of the film's overall tone manages to take hold. There's a genuine wish to see Emma and Josh, both in recovery, come together and pick up the pieces of their lives. Roemer finds a nice balance between critical and heartbroken, giving Josh leeway but metering her warmth. Dushku is fun to watch as the sultry temptress, although her part in the role is minimal. "The Wire" vet Clarke Peters and Brenda Fricker also appear in supporting roles, but they have little to do.
That said, the simple truth about Locked In is that any audience member paying attention will probably figure out what's up in the first ten minutes, and once you know what's going on, there's really no reason to keep watching. It took a significant amount of willpower to keep from skipping straight to the end, and I was not disappointed, despite a second revelation in the closing minute that tries to pull a fast one, but is mostly just confusing. It's generally frowned on to compare movies, but Marc Forster's 2005 film Stay is a marginally better version of the same idea, boasting more interesting directorial tricks and a similarly impressive cast. The only sense of being trapped here is waiting until the film is over, to see its predictable final beats play out pretty much as expected.
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