Held ★★★

Isn’t that heaven on earth. It’s the way a marriage should be, before feminism and political-correctness muddied the waters. Simpler. Better times.“

Directed by the duo behind Blumhouse’s The Gallows, Chris Lofing and Travis Cliff—Frightfest official selection—HELD sees a departure from the supernatural horror aspect. With some #MeToo movement subtext, HELD bolsters more of a psychological isolated-setting thriller for our current sociopolitical landscape. Emma and Harry Berrett are a seemingly normal couple with their marriage on the rocks. Their relationship is put to the test when their anniversary at a secluded vacation smart house rental is interrupted by an unknown voice that seems to watch and hear their every action. Over the course of a night, this disembodied voice begins ordering them to do whatever it says at the risk of harming any and all instances of disobedience. Running only a little over the ideal 90min mark (93min), and being set predominantly within a house in the middle of nowhere, HELD naturally…held…a genre/style advantage in my books. You do know how I love my locked-room thrillers! 

After an efficiently brisk 20min set-up for our two characters, the isolated modern tech house, and the unknown threat, the thrills and an effectively chilling score kick in. With all-seeing cameras in every room, the disembodied voice controls every aspect of this couple’s once thought weekend getaway: ranging from dress code, dining etiquette, politeness, generosity, and more. The #MeToo parallels effectively come to fruition as the voice begins prodding and enforcing traditionally dated gender role dynamics: electrocuting the woman when she tries to be the one to open the door, forcing the woman to do the cooking, ordering the woman to dress and smile in particular manners. Actor turned filmmaker Leigh Whannell‘s The Invisible Man reboot comes to mind when writing about HELD, giving us a glimpse into what it might have been for Elisabeth Moss‘ Kass living in constant fear under Oliver Jackson-Cohen‘s maniacal controlling scientist Adrian.


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