Yung-Jen Yang’s Locked Alone is a prime example of successful economic filmmaking. The movie – likely made on a shoestring budget – sets itself in a limited location and crafts an intriguing around minimal resources. Sometimes, keeping locations limited can create the most effective viewing experience and it’s clear Yang crafted her screenplay in a way to call for one location. Could it seem like a gimmick? Perhaps. Yang works to make sure her film rises above.
The movie opens with Catherine (Claire Hsu), who is being shown a nice Manhattan apartment. Claire has recently relocated to New York for work and needs a place to stay for the time being. Her boyfriend, Ethan (Theodore Newton), is with her but assures the landlady he won’t be staying. He’s just helping Claire get settled. She seems very strict about Claire being the only person in the apartment.
“…goes to leave one day, unlocks the door but can’t get out.”
Almost instantly, Claire feels uneasy about being alone in her new place. Things begin happening without much explanation, but Claire knows no one is with her. At least she hopes. She goes to leave one day, unlocks the door but can’t get out. The lock isn’t on, nothing is in her way or on the other side of the door but, no matter how hard Claire tries, she can’t get the door to open. Panic, understandably, begins to set in.
The movie makes it clear early on Claire is dealing with some sort of evil entity but you’ll have to seek out Yang’s movie to understand how everything unfolds. Locked Alone is Yang’s feature debut as a writer-director, after writing and directing shorts, along with working in the camera department on various other shorts. She has a keen eye for space and atmosphere, keeping the majority of the movie in Claire’s apartment. The apartment is key in making us feel Claire’s stress and paranoia. Even the nicest Manhattan apartment can seem small by comparison and as the movie goes on, the walls start to close in on our main character. Yang makes sure the audience can feel the same.
Locked Alone is a mere 82 minutes and Yang doesn’t waste any time getting things moving. A film on the shorter side can feel like an eternity because the director is doing everything they can to reach a feature length. Yang sets her story up and accomplishes everything she needs to with these characters in her runtime. At points, the story can trip over itself with revelations and clues, but Locked Alone is a strong calling card for a talented filmmaker.
Locked Alone screened at the 2020 Greenpoint Film Festival.
"…a strong calling card for a talented filmmaker."