|Directed by||Ziyaad Jina|
|Produced by||LockdownZA Productions|
|Written by||Ziyaad Jina|
|Starring||Daniel Harris |
|Edited by||Ziyaad Jina|
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The Lockdown is a 2021 independently produced Screenlife, Found Footage, Thriller/Horror film written and directed by Ziyaad Jina and produced by the South African company LockdownZA Productions. The film adopts the Screenlife Genre of filming by telling the story through a series of video calls and voice notes. The film stars Daniel Harris, Paul Mathai, Zeeshan Khalique and Ziyaad Jina as four friends who are stuck at home because of a lockdown due to a viral pandemic within an unspecified country. The film tells the story of their need to cope with isolation during the harsh conditions that present from the viral pandemic hitting the outside world while they have to manage the bizarre occurrences inside. The film is currently available for rent on Vimeo.
In the year 2020, South District 8765 had undergone a complete lockdown due to a break out of a deadly virus. Due to the ensuing poverty, crime and political unrest, the District drastically fell into turmoil during The Lockdown. The film portrays the found footage of a group of four friends conversing via webcam shortly after the outbreak of a pandemic. Throughout the film we learn that each of the friends - Zii, Robert (also referred to as Robbie and Rob), Momo (also referred to as Mo) and Dave are all, somewhat in their own way, alone and hence dependent on each other.
As a means of coping through The Lockdown, Dave suggests that they maintain regular contact through webcam video calls. At the beginning of the film we find the friends are quite jovial, a little bit scared but at the same time able to joke and make light of the circumstances they find themselves in. However, as the pandemic and lockdown continues, things start to quickly deteriorate in the outside world, violence escalates, jobs are lost and the safety of the four friends starts to deteriorate.
Robert’s mental health comes into question when he starts hearing noises in his house, is experiencing strange smells in his house and notices food going missing. His friends do not take him seriously and theorise he is just having “cabin fever” and there are simple reasons for his experiences. Robbie starts becoming extremely upset with the three of them for the way they are not supporting him . During one of the later video calls, he announces to his three friends that a homeless man, by the name of Tom, has moved in with him. He says this was the reason for all the experiences he was having the past few days and Robbie is seen to be completely relieved. The other three friends’ concern shifts between worrying over Robert’s mental health to concern over his physical well being. They are not sure if Tom exists and Rob seems to be full of excuses when requested to put Tom on camera to verify his existence.
In a subsequent call, the three finally convince Robert to prove Tom’s existence. Robert explains that he can show them Tom through the call, but that Tom is sleeping. He then shows the group what appears to be a sleeping man on the couch. This causes a further rupture between the friends; Dave and Zii believe Robert about Tom’s existence but Momo remains unconvinced. Momo now finds himself in disagreement with the three.
The calls continue and become even more tense as things further deteriorate ; water shortages become an issue. Dave also mentions that security guards in his building have been murdered and now he has worries that this is just the first phase of a full on coordinated attack. Zii’s neighbour Pete is found dead in his apartment.
The four friends are highly concerned about their safety due to the escalating violence and how close it is getting to them. In discussion Rob says that Tom has a plan to get out of the city, and join a commune where they will be safe. There is concern from the others as the idea does not sit well with them. Momo still does not trust Robbie is in the right state of mind. Dave expresses he remembers the commune from the negative press it received in the 1990’s and links to Satanic incidents.
The four friends, now scared and desperate, find themselves struggling to determine what the best course of action is for their safety. Violence has escalated further, buildings taken over and resources (like water and food) are being depleted. Momo is terrified, after having lost his job and the escalating violence, and in a disheveled and desperate state he pleads with the others to all meet and hunker down at Zii’s place. Zii is furious with this plan and lashes out at Momo, telling him he is a mess and that there is no way it makes sense to congregate at his place. Dave agrees with Zii that it is not a good plan, and they need a better solution. Dave explains that he has an essential workers permit and that the four of them need to make a plan and make a move somewhere else. During the call, Robbie starts talking to Tom offscreen. He returns to the call, tells the three guys that if they don’t follow Tom’s plan they are all going to die - then hangs up. The other three continue to argue after Robbie hangs up - Dave and Zii verbally attack Mo for disagreeing with Robbie as they continue to feel that Robbie’s plan is their only viable option and Mo has threatened this plan by upsetting Robbie with his continuous pestering of Tom.
After the previous days’ call ends on such a bad note, Zii and Dave struggle to get hold of Mo. Mo and Robbie are both late for the groups’ scheduled call. Zii keeps trying to persuade Robbie to join the call, and after some persuasion, Robbie joins the call. Momo does not join and no-one can get hold of him. Dave and Zii attempt to create a joint solution and ask Robbie to be co-operative; however, Robbie is very clear, in a cold, matter of fact way, that they either follow Tom’s plan or not join them at all. He then hangs up the call on them.
After Robbie hangs up on them, Zii and Dave decide that they need to make an urgent plan and their best option is to probably go with Robbie and Tom. They decide to keep trying to get hold of Mo, have one more nights’ sleep and then make a move.
The three friends, Dave, Zii and Robbie have a call. Zii states he has decided to go with Robbie’s plan, Dave is in agreement. The one big concern is that no one can reach Mo. Dave says that he’s happy to do whatever they decide to do as a group, so long as the group is in agreement. Robbie seems coldly indifferent to their concerns and explains that Tom and him will be leaving the next day at dusk, and that they are not working as a group but rather following Tom’s instructions. Robbie is very clear, he is not concerned about anyone (including Momo) and that they must follow Tom.
After Robbie leaves the call, Dave and Zii discuss the plans for the next day. Zii says he will go to Rob’s place earlier, and Dave will grab some stuff and then go past Mo’s place to see if Mo is there before coming through to leave.
The next day Ziii goes to Rob’s place. He arrives to find Rob holding a video camera and acting strange. After telling Zii that Tom is in his room, Robbie appears to violently assault Ziii and we hear manic laughing.
The next scene has Dave and Rob on a call. Dave is furious with Rob, asking him why he has been ignoring his calls and asking what has happened to Ziii. Dave continuously asks Robbie where is Ziii. Robbie is acting strange and weird and not giving a proper answer. Dave asks again, where is Zii. Rob replies saying “Zii is in the boot of my car and you know who’se with him? Momo” in an uneasy, strange way.
Dave appears to be relieved by this. He confirms again with Robbie, that Zii and Momo have been “taken care of” and that this is his entry into the commune. Through this exchange we realise that Dave, Tom and Rob are in cahoots and that they are using Zii and Momo’s bodies as the price of entry into the commune. Robbie confirms that everything is ok, Dave is safe, and that Tom’s plan is in motion. They both agree that they will leave for the commune now. Dave ends the call. We see Robbie leave the screen, but not end his call. After a short period of time, a body moves, stands up, and leaves the room.
- Daniel Harris as Dave
- Paul Mathai as Robbie
- Zeeshan Khalique as Momo
- Ziyaad Jina as Zii
- Suhina Deochand with a special appearance as Tom
The story was written and directed by Ziyaad Jina. The film was shot using online video streaming platforms to capture footage of the four actors during South Africa’s Level 5 Lockdown in 2020 (due to the COVID-19 Pandemic). Ziyaad Jina, with Daniel Harris, Paul Mathai and Zeeshan Khalique, created LockdownZA Productions to produce the movie with essentially $250 budget. The actors could not leave their homes and therefore the entire film was shot using online video streaming platforms with no physical engagement between the Actors.
LockdownZA Productions is yet to release the film at Cinemas, due to the ongoing restrictions faced in South Africa due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The movie has been "soft" released through online streaming platform Vimeo (available here) on the 06 September 2021.
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