‘Everyone has a secret’
Help is a 2021 British psychological thriller in which a young woman’s life turns chaotic when she uncovers a deadly secret about her friend.
Written and directed by Blake Ridder, making his feature directorial debut. Produced by Louis James. Executive Produced by Lucas A. Ferrara
The movie stars Emily Redpath (Romeo & Juliet), Sarah Alexandra Marks (H.P. Lovecraft’s Monster Portal; Exorcist Vengeance; Spider in the Attic; Easter Killing), Louis James (The Offering), Blake Ridder, Duncan James, Stuart Wolfe-Murray and Amy Jim.
A young woman’s life turns chaotic when she uncovers a deadly secret about her friend… A painful break-up prompts Grace to visit her friend Liv who is living in the idyllic English countryside with her boyfriend Edward and his dog Polly.
The trio starts the weekend in high spirits but things soon turn into chaos, as well-kept secrets are exposed and the friends come to see each other in a whole new light. Everyone has a secret…
Beyond its deeply uninspiring title, Help has positive plot elements that receptive viewers will recognise such as the awkward encounters they may have experienced in real life: the slightly stilted conversations that we all experience when no one is relaxed and untimely revelations that can put the damper of a would-be friendly evening. And the way that initially exciting relationships can soon turn sour and feel like a trap.
The obvious downsides are the overly optimistic running time of 96 minutes (the film simply doesn’t have enough plot twists to warrant its languid delivery) and a key revelation that’s obvious even from the trailer. The finale is also over too quickly and something of a damp squib after its “strap on this!” come on. Still, it’s refreshingly odd to see writer-director Blake Ridder cast himself as a “nut job” with mental health issues who becomes a victim of a control freak.
Help is maybe worth a watch if you are in a very patient mood and are intrigued as to how fictional toxic claustrophobic relationships can develop. Otherwise, it’s a pass.
Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA
“Help is a great film and one where the unsettling atmosphere and terrific final twenty minutes makes you forget about the sluggish middle and bad acting. Once the finale kicks into gear it really gets going and doesn’t slow down again until the credits roll. It’s something that gets under your skin and will leave you thinking about it for hours after watching.” Ashley Manning
“Help is a film that wants to be more but ends up feeling generic from almost start to end. There are a few good ideas in here and the delivery, unfortunately, messes them up. This is one of those frustrating films as it’s clear there is something here, it’s just jumbled and made to please so many folx that it ends up not really hitting the mark.” Cinema Crazed
“Some of the dialogue does come across as quite scripted at times which can take you out of it a bit but the film just about gets by as Emily Redpath delivers a strong central performance and so it is worth sticking with it. However, once the film’s finale comes along it really grips you and throws everything it has at you to create a really dark and vicious ending.” Filmhounds
” …the big twist reveals that things are not as they seem. While we wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise, we can’t let it pass that the reveal is predicated on a very dodgy understanding of a particular type of domestic violence […] The biggest problem, apart from the turgid pace and confused screenwriting, is directing actors: the cast perform with the wooden, inert energy of hostages making a proof-of-life video.” The Guardian
“It takes forever for something — anything — to happen. And when that something does, it’s no help. This corpse just lies there, a trio of attractive actors in an odd “menage” thriller variation filled with what’s meant to be menace, but which is merely a collection of awkward pauses, mostly the product of the most inept editing this side of student cinema competitions.” Movie Nation
“A very nice thriller that’s deliciously slow burn in approach and yet manages to fill almost every scene with some kind of unease so that one expects an ultimate outburst almost as a natural consequence – and yet, thanks to clever writing, the finale leads into a very unexpected direction.” Search My Trash
“While some of the dialogue can be a little too much on-the-nose, there are several plot twists that genuinely come as a surprise. The awkwardness of being a guest in a house in which something is bubbling is portrayed perfectly, allowing for brilliant outbursts of arguing and violence.” Starburst
“Help has some interesting ideas and powerful moments of character development throughout, but it just doesn’t all come together in a well balanced and meaningful way. Perhaps with some more likeable characters, the story beats would hit harder, but as it is now, things just fall a tad flat by the end.” To Tony Productions
“Ridder has made a picture worthy of a great deal of praise and recognition. His screenplay is filled with interesting characters, well-written dialogue and unexpected plot twists. The suspense will grab the viewer’s attention and keep them guessing until the end.” UK Film Review
“Despite the nature of the story, the performances in the film are strong, especially among the three main leads. There’s a natural ebb and flow to their dialogue, with believable chemistry and tension between them all […] The film’s biggest flaw is its surprise ending, which is certainly unpredictable but not in a good way.” Wylie Writes
Help premiered at the Cinequest Film Festival on 20th March 2021.
The film will be available on Digital on February 15th 2022.
Cast and characters:
Emily Redpath … Grace
Sarah Alexandra Marks … Liv
Louis James … Edward
Blake Ridder … David
Duncan James … Jogger
Stuart Wolfe-Murray … Chris
Amy Jim … Barbra
1 hour 36 minutes