REVIEW: Deadlocked (2020) 

Dir. Josh Bailey

Starring: Nick Champa, Taylor Tunes, Sophie Giberson, Kyle English, William Poole.

Deadlocked is a new American indie horror film about a group of survivors who are trapped on an elevator during a zombie outbreak. In a claustrophobic environment, the threat of infection and attack is lingering while the survivors work together to find a way out.

The zombie genre has been over saturated since the early 2000s, but Deadlocked finds its own niche rather than treading on old ground. Elevataphobia is very much a real fear, mixing this with the fear of an outbreak and releasing it during a ‘real-life’ world wide pandemic is nothing short of a stroke of genius.

With such a claustrophobic location, Deadlocked builds a strong emphasis on atmosphere much like elevator horror Devil (2010). In a confined space, there is a strong focus on both the acting and sound design and these hold up extremely well with the film achieving a vice-like grip over your attention. The camera intentionally focuses on tight angles to heighten the feeling of nausea and is well-shot. In terms of scares, Deadlocked isn’t going to give you nightmares or make you jump too often, but it won’t make you feel too safe either. Due to the limitations of the budget, the make-up isn’t going to hold up against its mainstream horror film counterparts but this is forgiven due to the films solid production values in other areas. The hand-held camera action used in later segments provides a nice change of pace and tension.

The zombies may be few in numbers but their threat is persistent. Deadlocked focuses on the aspect of survival over cheap tricks and gore. While the action may be limited at times, the plot certainly doesn’t drag its heels. There are a few twists and turns which help to keep the film interesting. Deadlocked leaves you craving more, and this can only be seen as a positive. Much like Pontypool (2008), sound plays a key role in keeping the threat of danger persistent. With a larger budget maybe the tension and gore could have been ramped up but Deadlocked certainly makes good use of what it has available.

Much like its location, Deadlocked elevates itself through sharp set pieces and rising tension. With a micro budget of only $10,000 (approx.) it delivers an impressive indie horror offering which is well worth your attention. The production values surpass the budget at the best of times, and the plot exceeds the limitations of its location. Deadlocked is a fine example of ‘less is more’ and provides great escapism while we try to survive our own pandemic.

Score: 4/5

Deadlocked is now available on Amazon Prime UK.

REVIEW: The Game of The Clock (2019) & Director Interview

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As premiered at FrightFest 2019, The Game of The Clock is a new horror short-film directed by London based Italian director Michele Olivieri about a teenage girl called Alice who visits a friend late at night who is not responding to her calls or text messages. Heightened with worry, the girl decides to investigate further and finds herself entering an empty flat as she tries to unravel the mystery around her friends disappearance. What entails is a frightening game of survival where she must last 5 minutes without looking at an unknown monster. Written notes are scattered across the house which warn Alice and gave her hints on how to survive but she soon finds out that its hard to think straight when you don’t actually know what is going on.

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The Game of The Clock may weigh in at only 7 minutes but it delivers an unnerving experience of claustrophobia and eeriness. From the deafening sound of the alarm clock going off to the tight camera angles, this short film is shot to put you very much at unease and create agitation. Sound plays a big part in carrying the mood of this film and building sustained tension and helps to create a dark atmosphere which raises fear. The soundtrack is dark and spooky and the soundscapes complement the lighting. The clever use of black screens and look-away segments helps to keep you intrigued but also anxious about what is around the corner. When watching The Game of The Clock, I felt tense and excited in equal measure due to its technical finesse at creating very effective scares on a shoe-string budget. While the plot may appear to be fairly thin at first, it is by no means linear or predictable. There are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing what will happen next and how it will end. It is impressive to watch a film which is mainly based in a small single location but has such a vast atmosphere and suspense surrounding it.

The Game of The Clock is a highly original and impressive short film which is scary, thrilling and alluring. It is refreshing to see a low budget indie short-film which not only gets the basics right, but shows so much heart and potential to be expanded.

★★★★★


Exclusive Interview with The Game of The Clock Director Michele Olivieri :

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1) The Game of the Clock is a very original concept, where did you get the idea from?
MO – Thank you so much. The concept came out of my desire to create something that was both compelling but also budget-friendly. In 2016 I was very much a beginner and therefore had no access to funding. So I came up with the idea to have the protagonist running from something that can’t be seen and developed it with the help of my co-writer Ian Reeds.

2) There are several moments during tense scenes where the camera looks away or blacks out. This added more tension to the scenes as viewer has to imagine what is happening next, was this intentional?
MO – Blacking out the screen was intentional. It is in line with the theme of the unseen which is present in the whole picture. It also helps the audience empathize with the vulnerability and frustration of the Victim – you want to see more, you need to see more, but you can’t.

3) The film uses sound and words to set the lead character uneasy and build fear, how important was sound when you were filming this short and did you come across any issues?
MO – From the beginning on it was clear that the emphasis on sound would be very important due to the theme and screen black outs. We wanted to compensate with a rich and complex soundscape, especially for the monster, which is never entirely seen. It took us a couple of tries to get it right but now the sound design is definitely one of the strengths of the film in my opinion. Bravo to Jack Cox, Robert Brown and Sophie Marchant who worked their magic on sound design, ADR and sound recording respectively.

4) The Game of the Clock was selected for FrightFest 2019 and was screened infront of large audiences, how did you enjoy your time at the festival and what was the reaction from audiences?
MO – FrightFest was a dream. Cheesy, but I have no other words to describe it. I was in disbelief the whole time and loved every minute of it. I never thought I would premiere my second short at the Prince Charles Cinema in the heart of London and I am beyond grateful. The audience seems to have responded well to it so far, which made me proud. I hope the reaction will be as positive after the official release.

5) Are there any plans to expand The Game of the Clock into a longer film or further develop its concept in future short films?

MO – I would love to make The Game of the Clock into a feature film and have loads of ideas for it. I’m currently in talks with production companies from overseas who have shown interest in this sense. It’s a very exciting possibility, but nothing is decided yet so I’m trying to keep my feet firmly on the ground.


Thanks to Michele Oliviere for kindly participating in this interview.

Nasties Nostalgia #1 – Faces Of Death (Series)

There are some horror films which are so real they disturb you for years. Faces of Death, which had it’s 40th anniversary recently, leaves you with memories you will never erase.

Remember the old Vipco Scream Collection releases which had plain black front covers and a small synopsis on the back but no images?

Well, Faces of Death movies were also released with black box art but contained an image of a skull on the front. Faces of Death stood out on shelves and when picked up you felt like you were holding something illegal due to its reputation. The films bragged on their marketing material that they’d been banned in 46 countries; to them they saw that as an achievement.

I discovered Faces of Death while I was at High School many moons again and it left its mark on me forever. These were the films the media and government wanted destroyed and taken away from us. Faces of Death provided something different for a niche market that wanted something more extreme; it was exactly what I’d been waiting for.

The truth of the matter is, beyond all the controversy and the filmmakers intention to cause offense; Faces of Death movies were groundbreaking in the horror genre and were bloody well made.

These ‘found footage’ clips served as an anthology of blood, guts and great special effects. Showing a mixture of horrific deaths which could happen in real life alongside some exaggerated ‘ideas’ which stretch the powers of imagination to its limits but still shock you.

Faces of Death fooled viewers into thinking they were watching real recorded death scenes, when in fact they were viewing masterfully choreographed set pieces with excellent special effects. You could argue, Faces of Death worked the same way as a magician in that respect. If it made you look away or squirm, it had beaten you.

The uproar among society at the time was due to lack of understanding of what the films were trying to achieve. The reality is, you would never find Real Death Compilations in your local HMV so this was actually no worse than any other horror of that time period. The gore was full-on but never enough to put you off your dinner.

People can sit through watching the news on TV seeing real death scenes in war torn countries but cannot stomach watching a mondo horror movie which immitates it. That is the biggest contradiction of all.

Faces of Death ran from 1978 to 1996 with 4 releases plus a further 2 compilations and a Making of documentary. If it had been released now, people would have been more mentally prepared for it since we’ve been served a ton of brutal exploitation & ‘torture porn’ movies since then.

You might find it hard to sit through Faces of Death, but it is worth your patience as you will definately never forget it. It’s 2019, you’ve waited long enough to give it a try. Challenge yourself, I dare you…

GAME REVIEW – The Forest (2018)

For years I’ve been wanting a cannibal survival game based in a dense Jungle. Well, now I’ve found one that I need to make you all aware of…

Like most jungle Cannibal movies, the game starts with an unexpected planecrash which leaves you bang in the middle of a dangerous jungle with nothing but your wit to help you survive. Pulling in influences from Cannibal Holocaust & Cannibal Ferox, this is any fanboys dream to play a game as intense and realistic as this…yet, with the creative freedom build and explore!

Imagine Minecraft as a survival horror game with cannibals and mutants wanting you dead.

If you don’t drink enough water, you die of dehydation. If you don’t eat enough food, you die of starvation. If you don’t clean blood off your skin, you die of infection. All these factors are added to the constant and frightening threat of being stalked and attacked by cannibals who want to eat you…

The tribes are intelligent and strategize their attacks. They won’t always run straight at you, sometimes they will retreat or come back later in larger numbers. The AI is so unpredictable (in a good way), there is no repetition in battle and you never quite know what to expect when it all kicks off.

You have to manage your resources, build shelter and fire, cook your food, heat up river water to remove germs, set up traps to catch live prey and kill threats. It may all seem overwhelming at first, but the depths in the detail that this game has gone to in order to stack the odds against you makes it all the more exciting.

Everything you find and kill can be crafted. Lizard skin for armour, bones for gates, skulls for trophies to scare off trespassers, you can even cut off limbs from the tribe you kill and endulge in cannibalism yourself if you are short on food supplies…

It’s so easy to get lost in the moment, cutting down trees and collecting sticks and rocks to build tall structures, then suddenly being ambushed out of nowhere. This is one of the finest survival horror games I’ve played in a very long time as you need to stay focused to avoid death.

There is so much you can do in this game and I’ve barely scratched the surface. You need to play it for yourself.

The Forest is available on PC & PS4.

Score: ☆☆☆☆☆