Help – ★★★

Help – ★★★

Blake Ridder’s feature debut Help, tackles some uncomfortable issues and, for the most part, is a solid psychological thriller that hits the right notes. However, with some glaring issues, it does struggle in the final act but remains a solid film.

A painful break-up prompts Grace (Emily Redpath) to visit her friend Liv (Sarah Alexandra Marks), who is living in the idyllic English countryside with her boyfriend Edward (Louis James) and his dog Polly. The trio start the weekend in high spirits, but soon, it turns into chaos. Well-kept secrets are exposed, and the friends come to see each other in a whole new light. Everyone has a secret…

Help has a perfectly fine psychological thriller story but it is let down by some odd delivery and lack of emotion in important scenes from some of the cast. As a result, you border on fazing out of the story and for a film like this, you need to be gripped. Thankfully the overarching story does that, but you do get dangerously close to the edge here.

However, there is an awful lot of positives here. First, Ridder is very assured at getting the shots and tone right, which can be quite difficult for a film like this. Crossing through the tough themes that he does here, you really get a grasp at his confidence in his first feature. Despite some of the acting, you are engaged with the story, and yes, it isn’t as fleshed out as you would wish, but with a good grounding for atmosphere, you are pulled in.

The tone set by Riddler and the production design help accentuate how off everything feels. Outside is bright in the countryside and then we come to this magnificent house that feels unduly cold and unwelcoming. Almost as if true love and affection have not been present for quite some time. Grace and the audience never feel comfortable in the house and that is just one of a few things that Help does so well. This allows for the little dramatic moments to get under your skin all the more and the general unease of Help makes it at times a very effective film.

While the characters are developed just enough, they could do with being fleshed out a little more to make everything work smoother, especially for a film that has the turns that Help does. A minor issue unfolds in Help that has us realise that our main trio are not entirely likeable for separate reasons and you struggle to want to root for them. Regardless the twists that do come forth work very well and allow you to legitimately second-guess where the story is going to take you next.

Sadly, for all the positives, its final act stumbles over itself and turns Help into a film it never needed to be, resulting in the issues you feared over during the film to come rushing forward. The cast struggle with the deliver of such integral scenes and instead of being at the edge of your seat, you find yourself doing the opposite. This more from drama to psychological thriller throughout the first acts to an almost horror style final act feels like a mistake that doesn’t connect how it wants or need to. The less said about the final moments, the better due to some strange overacting.

This is really such a shame as actor-writer-director Ridder is very skilled with his direction. It is just mystifying what went wrong here as everything seemed perfectly fine until that last act. There is a lot to like about Help; sadly, all the vital things revolve around the characters, be it the acting or how thinly they were written, remove us from the film, and leave you disappointed with what could have been.


HELP will be coming to Digital Download from 15th February 2022

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