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Review of the Lockdown (2021) - New Screenlife Movie

Poster for The Lockdown

Poster for The Lockdown

The Lockdown is an independent ScreenLife found footage genre movie released in 2021. It was the directorial debut of Ziyaad Jina and the first production from LockdownZA Productions. This thriller/horror takes the audience on a suspenseful journey.

The movie started production in South Africa during the global lockdowns experienced in 2020 because of the Covid Pandemic. It draws on those all too familiar emotions of panic and paranoia we all experienced, but with a twist. Its low production budget of R3’373 (~$250) adds to the grittiness and realism of the story.

The filmmaker seeks to draw on your inner latent emotions around the whole pandemic event to insert you into the experiences of the movies’ characters. Their emotions and reactions never seem too far from what you as the viewer may have experienced.

Set in a semi-fictional representation of a country (we assume South Africa), the movie centres around four friends, with acting debuts of all the actors. The friends are Zi (Ziyaad Jina), Robbie (Paul Mathai), Dave (Daniel Harris) and Momo (Zeeshan Khalique) at the start of their government’s lockdown in response to Covid. All the characters are isolating alone in their respective houses but have made a pact to keep it touch regularly via video calls. This premise is used as the footage that was found and presented in the ScreenLife genre format.

The ambience is one of a somewhat naïve positivity at the start, with the whole thing seeming more like a holiday that will end in due course. The characters feel normality is around the corner. As the days progress the reality of what is actually happening comes to rest on the friends. Jobs are being lost, resources are in short supply, and Robbie’s state of mind comes into question.

Robbie claims to have a homeless man, ‘Tom’, in the house which makes his friends concerned. Tom has never been seen or heard from by the other 3 and they doubt his existence, but the influence he has on Robbie is definite and keeps pulling the group further apart. Mo stops communicating with the friends after a call where Zi admonishes him, and they are unable to contact him again.

Finally, as options run out, the 3 remaining friends decide to follow a plan presented by ‘Tom’ to take them out of the ever more hostile city. They will need to get Mo first. Will ‘Tom’s’ Plan, so strongly pushed by Robbie, work? Will they escape to safety?

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As a screen life movie, The Lockdown may not be for everyone. The genre is quite new and movies like Unfriended and Searching did bring the genre to mainstream viewing. It does do a great job of keeping you suspended in the journey and interested in what conclusion the story will finally provide. The Lockdown gets ScreenLife done right as it feels more natural watching the story unfold, unlike Searching, which seemed to force camera views in particular scenes.

The movie has won multiple awards in the festival circuit, including Best Horror, Best Experimental Film and a pair of Best Debut Director awards for Ziyaad Jina. The movie was “soft” released on a streaming platform called Vimeo.com in September 2021. LockdownZA Productions also had viewings for found footage fans (through Facebook group) which is where I happened to come across it. It received several positive reviews from the members on the group, which validates the vision that Ziyaad Jina had in putting the story he created onto film. There is a fluidity to be found in the acting and scripting that allows you to buy into the friendships and the challenges the relationships face.

The film does justice to the genre and really is a great watch. I highly recommend giving it a watch and maybe relive some of the lockdown tensions experienced.

© 2022 Yachnadeochand

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