There’s something hypnotic about the feel and pacing of Landlocked, a minimalist movie if there ever was one. Made on the cheap by just a handful of people, it’s one of the more resourceful genre entries to come down the pipe in quite some time. In the moment, it’s a sleepy sorta-ghost story that lightly tugs the viewer into a state of relaxed tension, but once the credits roll, its staying power is undeniable. It’s a strange one, but one worth spending some time with.
When Jeffrey Owens passes away, he has it written into his will that in one year’s time his house will be demolished, and the land it’s on will be bequeathed to his children. In the week before its pending demolition, Mason Owens makes a trip to his childhood home to grab anything of interest. This is naturally a melancholy task, made doubly so by a stunning discovery: when he looks through the eyepiece of a long-discarded home video camera, he can see images from his past in real time, occurring wherever he points the lens. Think “augmented reality.” If there’s a memory that happened in the kitchen, Mason can once again see it unfold exactly as it occurred by merely pointing the camera. What follows is an urgent rush for Mason to capture as many memories as he can before the house is felled, putting an end to this supernatural task.
Landlocked is written and directed by Paul Owens, who uses real home video footage from his own life to portray the magical images that Mason captures. We often refer to films as being a director’s “most personal” work, but they really don’t get more personal than this. While the pace may be a bit sleepy for some viewers, this will likely resonate hard with folks in their thirties, all of whom are approaching middle age in a world obsessed with nostalgia; a generation of adults who are among the first to have so much of their lives captured on film, and who, at the present moment, are watching their parents enter old age (if they’re lucky enough to still have them).
For these reasons, middle age is a time of both grief and growth, a time when full personhood is dramatically achieved, and Owens’ film mines the feelings of this era of life from every melancholy-soaked moment of Landlocked. At the same time, this is indeed a horror movie. As Mason explores his former home with new eyes, startling and macabre images also manifest, calling into question the permanence of memory, even when it is “on tape.”
At just 75 minutes, the patient pacing of Landlocked maximizes the emotional material without falling victim to the dragging nature of similar tone pieces, leaving in its wake enough food for thought and spooky imagery to haunt the viewer for quite some time afterward.
When you have a moment, check out the cast and crew listing on IMDb. It’s a true indie, conceived and realized almost solely by the Owens family. Quite impressive indeed!
Directed by Paul Owens
Written by Paul Owens
Starring Jeffrey Owens, Mason Owens, Paul Owens, Seth Owens
Not Rated, 75 minutes