The strongest characteristic of Netflix’s new psychological thriller film Locked In seems to be the vast open fields of the English countryside and the overall landscape in the background that gives it an atmosphere of grim mystery. The plot, which revolves around a friendly nurse at a hospital trying to figure out the exact details about the horrific accident of one of her patients, is mostly average without any remarkable or noteworthy quality. The thrill of the experience and the twists that Locked In takes do make for a fairly tense watch, even though there’s not much food for thought after.
Plot Summary: What is the film about?
Locked In begins in the middle of the action, when a nurse at a hospital very enthusiastically asks her patient to communicate with her. As can be understood, this is a very rare occasion since the patient has been in a completely unresponsive state for the last many days. The nurse, Nickie Mackenzie, holds up an alphabet board in front of the patient, Katherine Carter, since the latter cannot use most of her body still and cannot speak either. As the woman has only just been able to move her eyelids, she has started to communicate by blinking at the letters called out by Nickie. After blinking at the letters M, U, and R, the nurse does not take long to figure out that the word her patient is spelling for her is murder.
Although this is an extremely unusual practice for both a nurse and a patient, Nickie is not too shocked by what Katherine seems to tell her. Over the past five weeks, since Katherine had been admitted to the hospital, Nickie suspected that something mysteriously wrong must have happened to her. Terribly injured, with most of her body and face totally paralyzed, Katherine had been reported to have been run over by a car and was admitted in an almost vegetative state. Such was her condition that the doctors were not sure whether the woman was actually alive and conscious internally, only locked in because she was unable to communicate, or whether she had entered a comatose state completely.
Therefore, when Katherine is able to move her eyelids at present, Nickie hurries to find out what exactly happened to her. The nurse’s suspicion has also been raised because the only person who comes to visit Katherine, a young woman named Lina, had also been to the hospital earlier, visiting another patient who had to be helped by the specialist nurse. While Nickie’s findings are just a scratch on the surface, Locked In reveals the horrific and scandalous secrets that had been buried in the Rowling Manor estate.
Who is Lina? Why had her relationship with Katherine changed?
The fact that Lina is the only person who comes to check in on Katherine at the hospital does seem to make Nickie wonder about the relationship that the two share. Although her mostly regular visits make it look like the two are quite close to each other, Lina’s reluctance to directly care for her with her own hands does hint towards some distance between them. Finally, when Nickie sits down with Lina fairly early in Locked In, she and the viewers are made aware of the old but complex relationship between the two women.
Katherine, who is significantly older than Lina, had been best friends with the latter’s mother, Danielle, ever since their childhood days. Katherine was an orphan growing up in foster care in, presumably, London, and she would spend most of her time with Danielle at the latter’s house. The pair remained close friends after growing up, too, but Katherine’s fortune turned when she became an actress and gained fame and wealth. As she states in the film, Katherine never wanted to grow apart from Danielle, but the latter wanted to keep a distance since she was still stuck in poverty and her best friend was now supremely rich. Since Danielle could play the piano very well, Katherine had made a promise that she would buy her a grand piano once she made enough money, and the woman claimed that the very piano currently at her home had indeed been bought for her best friend.
There is obviously a difference of opinion with regard to this falling out between the two friends, since Danielle’s daughter, Lina, argues that it was the actress who had suddenly wanted to stay away from her commoner friend. It is not too difficult to imagine Katherine having done so, especially since she brags about the fat amount she paid to buy her best friend a piano. But according to her, it was Danielle who refused to be friends with her after she moved to the US for her work, and during this time, the woman had been murdered by someone. The exact reason or story behind the death of Danielle’s mother is not revealed in Locked In, but it is mentioned that Lina had abandoned her mother at their home and that she had been murdered while alone. If I am to take a guess about this matter, then it seems most likely that Danielle had been killed for some money or drug-related problem while her daughter was away.
Then, fourteen years before the present time, the adolescent Lina had been adopted by Katherine after the girl had just lost her mother. At the time, Katherine had returned to England after a successful stint in Hollywood, and she was also married to an extremely rich and aristocratic man in her native country. It was this husband of hers who owned the sprawling Rowling Manor estate, but tragedy struck in multiple ways after his death. The man did not leave behind any of his wealth or property in Katherine’s name and instead handed down everything to his son Jaime. This son was from his first marriage, and this whole situation meant that Katherine now had to look after her stepson in order to continue living a life of luxury at the estate.
Since Lina had also lost her mother recently, Katherine took on the role of a legal guardian for the young girl, and she brought her to Rowling Manor. Only a few years older than Jaime, Lina fit in well as the caretaker and friend to the boy, exactly as Katherine seemingly intended things to be. As the woman returned to her life of glitz and glamor a few months later, someone still needed to be at home to provide company to Jaime, and Lina stepped into this role. Jaime had also been sickly since his childhood days, and he often had seizures that needed to be tended to urgently. The boy had also developed this illness of his as a means to draw attention to himself whenever he wanted to, and this habit continued even in his adult life.
While Katherine had essentially trusted Lina to take care of Jamie on her behalf, she had never expected that she might be taking her place in the house more firmly in the future. As it turned out, Jamie fell deeply in love with Lina, since the two of them always stayed together, and neither left the house for any education or profession. This socially crippled existence obviously brought the two closer, and a few years ago, Jamie and Lina got married to each other. Katherine could not digest this sudden development, for this meant that the manor and property were more out of her reach since Lina now had more hold than her, for she was the owner’s legal wife. It was for this reason that the relationship between the two had changed and turned strenuous, as there remained very little trust in the mother-daughter relationship.
What was Robert’s real plan?
While the marriage between Jaime and Lina had made her rich and part of the aristocratic upper class in a way, there was simply no romantic spark between the two. It was very obvious that Lina craved attention and intimacy, and when a third person walked into their relationship, she could not hold herself back. Jaime was being treated by their family physician, Robert Lawrence, a handsome man only a few years older than the patient and his wife. It is Robert in whom Lina finds the lover she has been craving, and the two start an affair very soon. However, as Locked In puts it, Robert Lawrence had a very different plan of his own, and this affair was only part of his evil scheme.
To put it simply, Robert wanted all the wealth and property that belonged to Jamie, and he had made a tight plan to get hold of it, either in the form of the Rowling Manor property or in the form of cash that would come after selling it off. He purposefully wooed Lina, knowing well that she would be the heir to the entire property if something happened to her husband, Jamie. Surely enough, something was to happen to Jamie very soon, since he was still the rightful heir.
Eventually, both Katherine and Jamie found out about Lina’s infidelity, and the wife was getting frustrated with their remarks. Lina was also experiencing true love and passion for the first time, and so she was interested in leaving this life behind and starting afresh with her new lover. Dr. Robert Lawrence waited for this very instance, when Lina would agree to his plan of taking any step for their love. The doctor had already managed to keep Jamie socially crippled and restricted in life by getting him addicted to painkillers and other nerve-relaxing pills, but now he needed him completely out of the scene.
If Jamie decided to divorce Lina, then that would spoil the entire plan for the doctor. Therefore, he takes Jamie and Lina boating one afternoon and then intentionally capsizes the boat, making all three of them fall into the water. While both Robert and Lina were avid swimmers, Jamie could not swim, and the doctor then pulled him down to the depths of the water to drown and kill him. Lina was now a widow with all the wealth and money in the world, and her lover wanted her to sell off the property to liquidate the fortune in cash, which would make him rich as well. But Lina had also realized the devilish nature of Robert, and so she decided not to follow his plan, also because of her love and respect for Katherine, who would become homeless if she sold off Rowling Manor.
However, as Lina was shocked to find out one night, Dr. Robert Lawrence was also having a secret affair with her mother-in-law (and adoptive mother), Katherine. The real plan of Robert was to get hold of the property and wealth by hook or by crook, and he had been keeping both women in hand to ensure this plan. If Lina would agree to get rid of Katherine, too, then he would directly inherit the wealth by being her lover and then her husband. But if Lina refused, which she does, then Robert would convince Katherine to kill the younger woman together, and with the death of Lina, the last rightful owner of the property, there would be nobody else to claim the family wealth. In that case, Robert would happily live with Katherine, and even if he got rid of her later on, there would be nobody to question his ownership of the estate. This seems to have been the exact plan of Robert, and on that particular night, when Lina refused to execute his plan, he chose to side with Katherine and get rid of Lina by killing her.
What happens to Lina and Katherine in the end?
Although Robert had made a fairly solid plan to inherit the property in whatever manner possible, he had not really accounted for the love, or simply humaneness, of the two women. While he planned to kill either of them, both Lina and Katherine refused to hurt each other. It is revealed towards the end of the film that when Robert was chasing Lina in his car, Katherine asked him to stop and let her go, which enraged the man, and he drove over Katherine, fatally hurting her. There is even a suggestion that Katherine was having the affair only to take the vile man’s attention away from Lina, because she knew that he will try to kill Lina very soon. At present, Robert knew that he could still try and influence Lina into following his plan, and this happens as well, for Lina does not know that her mother-in-law had tried to protect her.
Therefore, Lina agrees to Robert’s plan of taking the injured Katherine back to Rowling Manor and killing her there with sedatives that would make her death seem like a natural stroke. It is actually the nurse, Nickie, who intelligently figures out what exactly happened, and she texts Lina about the same. Jamie once had to be admitted to the same hospital earlier, and Nickie had been suspicious of Dr. Lawrence from that very time, since his prescribed medicines had technically caused Jamie’s illness. Nickie had also seen the proximity between Jamie and Lina multiple times, and she had more understanding of the matter than she was initially showing. Both because of these texts and also perhaps because of an inherent love for Katherine, Lina accepts that Robert is the only true evil in their lives.
During Locked In‘s ending, Lina finally manages to plunge the syringe into Robert’s neck, and then, when it does not have the desired effect, Lina bravely stabs the man with a knife, finally killing him. The film ends with a scene of the police and paramedics arriving at the estate to take away the horrific man’s dead body, while Lina, Katherine, and Nickie, who had all just protected each other from harm, look on with relief on their faces.