Rev. Ron Reviews “The Lock In” (a Christian horror movie about a haunted porno magazine)

lock in demon

One of my all-time favorite types of films is the “So Bad It’s Good” genre. This particular set of features are usually defined by bad acting, silly stories and overwhelming incompetency within filmmaking staples like camera work, editing, lighting and scene composition. A go-to place to find these types of films is within the Christian film network. These ones get even better because it has all the type of stuff you’d find in things like The Room, Troll 2 and also in my recently reviewed Double Down but it also has the pleasure of containing religious imagery that is usually a bit on the off-the-wall side. To me, things like God’s Not Dead and Left Behind are just as fun to watch as Birdemic because they lack just as much irony (maybe even lack it to a greater extent) as anything you’d see on Mystery Science Theater 3000. One of these Christian films I’ve been not so patiently waiting for was a “found footage” horror film called The Lock In.

I heard about this one by accident a few years back but it somehow was released under my nose in 2014. After Chris revealed to me that it was set upon the world, I scrambled to get my hands on a copy. Now, you’re probably asking what it is about this film that had me losing my ever-loving mind. Surely this can’t be any different than the numerous Christian propaganda films that get released every year. Well, this one has the honor of attempting to be a horror film presented in the Paranormal Activity presentation of “found footage” but it is also about…wait for it…a possessed porno magazine. Yes, that’s right. This movie is a Christian propaganda film about a demon inhabiting a skin mag!

Lock In retweeted by pastors

Some religious folks retweeted Ron’s comments, not realizing he was making fun of the movie

There’s no point in playing coy here so I’ll just say it: The Lock In is a terrible film. The characters have absolutely no depth to them and beyond basically describing them and knowing their names they are pretty much bland, faceless caricatures of people who fill the pews at the local church—or what a Christian screenwriter would think fills the pews. Things get even better as these actors were clearly taken from those said pews at the church and their abilities match that. Try not to laugh as you watch these kids cry over the fact that porno demon is out to kill them. Why is this funny? Mostly because they can’t actually cry and they are delivering all their lines fighting tooth and nail to not smile because they all are giddy over being in a “spooky” film.

One undeniable fact about this film is the fact it was doomed from the start when it went into pre-production. To craft a horror film, you have to have both an underlying understanding of a person’s basic emotions and you have to have some guts. Having a church group try to accomplish this is an experiment in failure because what constitutes as frightening in this film can’t even be appreciated by the extremely devote—the very target audience of this feature. The horrors of the porn demon are constantly obscured by terrible camera work. Overall, the film just feels like it flat-out refuses to show anything that is happening because, in doing so, the film would skirt too close to the edge of indecency. This movie is so scared to show any balls that it even tosses the reality of having scared kids let loose a few swears words right out the window. These kids—who are shown with no parental supervision and are, in theory, being tormented by a porno demon—won’t even let out a PG “damn” or even a G-rated “heck.” The closest they get is saying the word “freakin’” and it really takes all the reality out of the film and just highlights that the only scary thing in this production was the crew not wanting to offend anyone or their fragile sensibilities.

walk into shot

Crew member clearly standing in the background of a shot.

Additionally, like all great “So Bad It’s Good” films, this one suffers from all sorts of storytelling and plot problems on top of all the technical issues. These issues are numerous and include such problems as dialogue that is terribly improvised by the actors, the kids jumping from scared to okay from scene to scene, the script thinking that having the demon stopping the kids from getting a snack in the kitchen is a form of torturing them (I’m not kidding, there’s a whole scene where the kids can’t open the fridge or the cabinets because the demon has used its limitless dark magic to stop them from getting some cheese and crackers), the passage of time is completely impossible to accurately gauge and the entire thing looks like it takes place only over the course of less than an hour and finally—and this is the best part—there’s a crew member that clearly walks into shot during the film’s “climax” and it is left in the film. There’s a whole host more problems and I could write several more paragraphs about them but these were just some of the more memorable ones that haunted the story.

Finally, the best part about this film is how seriously the production takes itself. It’s pretty amazing that a film that centers on a porno demon could try and seriously add deep and quasi-constructive criticism about pornography. The film brings up real issues of porn addiction and the inherent sexism of the adult entertainment industry and these are both solid points and real problems but the sloppy execution of having these points not feathered into the story but rather just dumped out through clumsy dialogue during a single scene doesn’t showoff deep and rich thinking but rather just highlights truly awful writing and execution. Of course, that isn’t mentioning the reality that this film centers on a PORNO DEMON! It doesn’t matter how thoughtful, deep or amazing the arguments you are making are, they will always be undercut by the reality that your Christian “found footage” horror-less horror film’s antagonist is a possessed adult magazine.

burning the mag

The Lock In is so badly put together, acted and written that it barely qualifies as a film. It makes even the worse films produced by kids and uploaded to YouTube look like cinematic masterpieces but it has something that legit and actually terrifying horror films don’t have: Riff-ability. This movie is pathetically easy to make fun of and it, in turns, makes the film incredibly fun to sit through and watch. This is one of those movies that becomes an event to have with your friends. You all cram on the couch and laugh the night away at a film that is trying to convincingly make the concept of a porn possessed by a demon legitimately scary… and then you laugh even harder as you watch it fail utterly. I honestly can’t recommend this film enough because I laughed at it that hard and it will definitely be one I will show to each and every friend I have. Yep, all five of them!

Rev. Ron understands that the players are going to play, play, play, play, play and that the haters are going to hate, hate, hate, hate, hate but he’s just going to shake, shake, shake, shake, shake…and write about movies.  You can read his monthly news about what’s coming to Netflix here on The Robot’s Pajamas and you can read his insanely large back catalog of movie reviews on his blog at RevRonMovies.BlogSpot.com.  You can also follow him on Twitter (@RevRonster).