During a heavy rainstorm, a mansion in the remote countryside becomes the setting for illicit sexual encounters. In this thriller from Netflix, a British-accented Famke Janssen is seen riding a horse while holding a shotgun. One might think this would make for an exciting and scandalous film, especially when these elements are combined, but unfortunately, it falls short. The initial absurdity of the story loses its charm by the end, and what was once delightfully outlandish becomes annoyingly unrealistic.
Written by Rowan Joffe, Locked In is based on a page-turner that one might find at an airport. The film, similar to Joffe’s previous adaptation of SJ Watson’s thriller Before I Go to Sleep, attempts to balance a potentially unreliable narrator and flashbacks. However, it falls short in comparison to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and ultimately disappoints with its lack of twists. The story follows Katherine, a former actor who is now suffering from locked-in syndrome after an accident. Her nurse, played by Anna Friel, becomes intrigued by her case and tries to unravel the mystery. Katherine’s adopted daughter Lina (played by Rose Williams in an Alicia Vikander-esque performance) may hold the key to the truth, but it becomes unclear who the real victim and villain are.
Lebanese filmmaker Nour Wazzi makes her debut with a playful embrace of the gothic elements in Joffe’s story. The opulent mansion of Katherine is shrouded in darkness and rain, adding to the fairy tale atmosphere. Lina’s mother’s untimely death leads her to be taken in by her wealthy friend, Katherine, who clashes with her stepson over her late husband’s inheritance. While it may seem absurd, the first half of the film is captivating. However, as the mystery unravels and the destination becomes clear, it lacks the surprise factor needed to stand out among similar films. Janssen’s performance as a shotgun-wielding ex-TV star falls short of the campy expectations we may have. Friel’s talent shines through, but her character is underdeveloped, leaving us to wonder if her appearance was a favor to a friend.
Her appearance here is a more compelling mystery than the one at the film’s centre, which even at a relatively brief 96 minutes feels overstretched and underbaked. Aping the format and tease of a novel that you just can’t bear to put down, Locked In is instead a film you wish you would have stopped far earlier.
The film Locked In is currently streaming on Netflix.