Monday, April 5, 2021

Held Review: An Indie Horror Film That Will Capture Your Attention

Jill Awbrey	...	Emma Barrett Bart Johnson	Bart Johnson	...	Henry Barrett Rez Kempton	Rez Kempton	...	Joe Zack Gold	Zack Gold	...	Ryan Sullivan Jener Dasilva	Jener Dasilva	...	Graham Tessa Munro	Tessa Munro	...	Beth Ryan Shoos	Ryan Shoos	...	Bobby Christian Telesmar	Christian Telesmar	...	Mark

Release date: April 9, 2021
Running time: 94 minutes
Starring: Jill Awbrey, Bart Johnson
Written By: Jill Awbrey
Directed By: Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff

Emma (Jill Awbrey) and Henry's (Bart Johnson) marriage is losing its spark. In an effort to reconnect, they vacation to a remote high-end rental, complete with automated smart house features and integrated security. However, after suspecting a nighttime intruder they decide to flee, only to become forcibly trapped inside by the automated security system. Emitting from the house, an unknown 'Voice' watches their every move through an array of hidden cameras, revealing an intimate and unsettling knowledge of their relationship. While the situation grows increasingly brutal, Emma and Henry must work together to uncover the truth and find a way out before it's too late.

Porchea Carroll	...	Valerie Liz Fenning	Liz Fenning	...	Jane Paul Mischeshin	Paul Mischeshin	...	Daniel Paul Pavelski	Paul Pavelski	...	Video Husband Megan Scortino	Megan Scortino	...	Video Wife Produced by  Kyle Gentz	...	producer Chris Lofing	...	producer Travis Cluff	...	producer Cody Fletcher	...	associate producer
Held starts off as your conventional isolationist horror film, with a couple going to a secluded house to work on their relationship.  I was expecting some common tropes, and the start of the movie doesn't disappoint in this regard.  The movie has a slow start but I did not mind that as it let you get acquainted with the characters and their predicament.  However, once the film really starts to showcase the horror aspects of the story, it showed a much deeper narrative than I originally expected.  The film delves into relationships, traditional gender roles, and the unequal perceptions of husbands and wives in a clever and equally chilling way.  It has a way of turning conventional, "traditional" values into sinister commands that will make your skin crawl.  Because of the situation that Emma and Henry find themselves in, even normally positive ideas and actions have a way of turning into dark commands.  

Held has a small cast by design, and thankfully both Jill Awbrey and Bart Johnson do a great job as Emma and Henry.  Due to their initial situation, the characters have to play a much more layered couple than I initially thought.  And then, as the situation gets darker and more harrowing, they have to show a lot more depth than I was initially expecting.  Because of the nature of the commands that the 'Voice' gives them, these two are forced to have conflicting and nuanced emotions come through.  And their comfort (and discomfort) at some of these requirements really makes for some interesting dynamics.  And the other aspect of Held that is so important is the setting is just perfect.  This film is a great example of how to do budget indie films right.  The house that the film takes place in is a beautiful and isolated setting, and the story keeps the couple there, which limits the budget that can be such an issue in indie filmmaking.  

And although the story starts slow, becoming much more interesting when the film starts to ramp up, it also ends in a satisfying way that wraps it all up.  I was pleasantly surprised by the ending, which both concludes the story and leaves you with plenty to think about.  It is a wonderful aspect of horror that it can address topics to a wider audience than your typical drama or documentary.  The relationship issues, societal expectations, and toxic nature of "traditional" norms are all cleverly explored in an entertaining and engaging way.  And that is what makes this genre so interesting and fulfilling.  From Lucky, to The Power, to Held, you have films that will entertain while asking important societal questions and highlighting injustices. 

Held will capture your attention with its strong, nuanced performances, perfect setting, and engaging story that entertains while exploring important societal norms.

Watch it.

Directed by  Travis Cluff	 Chris Lofing	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Jill Awbrey Music by  Richard Breakspear	Cinematography by  Kyle Gentz	Film Editing by  Andy Matthews	 Aaron Tharp	Makeup Department  Amber Medina	...	key makeup artist
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Held is releasing in theaters, digitally, and on demand on April 9, 2021.  For showtimes, click here

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