“Landlocked” is a deep and thoughtful film that explores the loss of a loved one while incorporating a unique approach to found footage.
Landlocked presents a moving story, weaving the director’s own family and their home movies to chart the experiences of Mason as he returns to the family home. It’s a very personal and non-traditional way of incorporating found footage as a narrative technique.
I’ve said previously that found footage films are not my thing, and I went into this not expecting much. But I couldn’t have been more wrong.
As the film progressed, it drew me in and made me think about how I felt during the aftermath of my father’s passing — and how I would have seized on to anything to see him again.
One key aspect here that makes Landlocked so effective is that the main actors are family and react to each other in a recognizable and honest way.
For me, this film would warrant repeat viewings to ensure you get everything from it.
If you are going into this expecting traditional scares, it is not for you.
That’s not to say there aren’t moments of unease because there are.
We are introduced to the father as he records his goodbye and final instructions to his family that, following his passing, the house is to be demolished. He notes that if they wish to save anything, they should come and collect it before work starts.
Mason returns to see if there is anything he’d like to hold on to and to say his own goodbye.
I couldn’t tell if Mason was estranged from the family. But it seems he had a strong need to reconcile his feelings, regretting it was too late. One of the other brothers comes and stays, but soon Mason is alone in the house.
And then he finds the camera.
As Mason walks around the house and grounds, he uses the camera and sees memories of him as a child. However, there is no tape in the machine. He changes the date of the recording to a date specific to him and is presented with a memory of that date. As he continues to stay and use the camera, he sees more and more memories of his life. He attempts to record to save these memories, slowly building a library (of his life) before the home is destroyed.
As mentioned earlier, this is a measured story with no histrionics or melodrama.
In other films, we’d expect to see the lead slide into some form of madness, resulting in a bloody climax involving an axe or something similarly horrific.
Here, however, our protagonist simply takes us on a journey, with each recording unlocking something new and bringing him closer to his father.
Something that should be mentioned is the length of time it took for the film to be completed. It was an extended period that, according to the film’s press release, took a laborious ten years to bring to the screen. The actual filming spanned four years. Yet, this is not readily apparent when you watch the film.
It is presented in a documentary style with noticeable jumps in quality between what we see and the images recorded on the camera, which works exceptionally well. Ambient sounds build the unease you feel as the film unfolds. And the fact that the film ends without a barrage of special effects does not detract from what has come before.
I found it a difficult film to review because of how much I was personally affected by it. I’m doing my best to avoid giving too much away that could ruin the joy of experiencing this lovely film for yourself.
It’s been some time since a film has moved me so completely and resonated with me in such a profound way. I suspect anyone who has had to process grief might feel similarly.
This is an easy film to recommend, especially if you long for a change of pace from the usual genre fare.
But I urge you to try to watch it free from distractions. This isn’t the kind of film you passively watch in the background. It requires — and deserves — your full attention.
I appreciate that a film lacking much action might not be everyone. But I’d encourage you not to let that put you off. I believe it is more than capable of pleasantly surprising you.
Landlocked is the debut feature film from Paul Owens, and it bodes well for his future in the genre. I sincerely hope others will take notice and Owens will be able to showcase more of what he’s capable of with a bigger budget. I, for one, can’t wait to see what he does next.