It has been a long time coming but director Byron C. Erwin’s latest production is a pilot for the show Mr. Lockjaw (2015), which is now available VOD (http://mrlockjaw.com/). The pilot is written by Justin Craig and is a crime drama about Miles Brimley (Troy Halverson), a struggling children’s entertainer who also just so happens to have a split personality that manifests itself through his ventriloquist dummy, Mr. Lockjaw.
While Miles struggles to make ends meet, Mr. Lockjaw excels as an extremely skilled interrogator for a mob boss. This initial episode sets up many stories and subplots that will play out through subsequent episodes but in addition to Miles’ continuing struggle to grapple with his sanity and just trying to get through each day of life there is a phalanx of drug dealers, dirty cops, blackmail, and corruption that threatens to bring everyone down with only Mr. Lockjaw in the center who can fully grasp the whole picture.
Shot in and around all parts of Atlanta, Georgia, Erwin and his production team have crafted a unique and dark underworld of Atlanta unlike any other independent production. Production values are first rate on par with a Hollywood television series. They’ve actually made Atlanta a character in the film that Miles just happens to be trapped in.
Halverson shines as the emotionally malevolent Miles whose sanity is always on the brink of collapsing and brings to mind Anthony Hopkins’s magnificent performance in the similarly themed film Magic (1978). He is supported by the equally good Mark Ashworth (as mobster Mr. Stanley), Keith Brooks (as Balto, the clown), and Tomi Lavinder (as Gwyneth Peters), among others. It is very interesting how all the characters’ stories intertwine in this complex crime drama that borders on the truly horrific.
Writer Craig does a nice job balancing the many different stories and subplots and even though they may not all completely connect, by the end of the first episode you are drawn in and want to find out more and what will happen next.
Horror fans will be able to rejoice in the onscreen violence (and there is plenty of it) as well as the dark comedic touches sprinkled throughout. This is a disturbing new kind of crime drama that fans of more cerebral shows like Hannibal, Bates Motel, or Dexter will enjoy. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for this series.