Help (2021) has an interesting premise but ultimately falls flat

Help - Courtesy of Ridder Films
Help - Courtesy of Ridder Films /

Blake Ridder, best known for the short films The Manor, and My Dead Husband, makes his feature film debut with psychological horror-thriller Help

The story follows Grace (Emily Redpath), who, after an upsetting breakup, goes 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 trip starts in high spirits as the trio begins to celebrate Edward’s birthday, but the weekend descends into chaos as dark secrets are slowly revealed. As the secrets are slowly revealed the trio begin to see each other in a new light, and cracks form within both friendships and relationships.

Shot over just 12 days and with a crew of 20, Help was filmed over lockdown in the UK. While the film doesn’t state, it’s set over this period the possible effect of a pandemic and lockdown can definitely be felt within the characters and their relationships with one another. Grace and Liv, best friends, haven’t seen each other in a while, Grace’s long-distance relationship ends due to not seeing each other for months. Alongside this, both Liv and Edward are completely isolated from other people, neither of them currently working.

Help – Courtesy of Ridder Films
Help – Courtesy of Ridder Films /

Help: What does the film do well?

While I do feel the film ultimately falls flat it certainly does have its good moments. One of these is the films comedic aspects.

The funniest moment, which unfortunately comes way too early in the film,  is when on the way to Liv and Edward’s home, Grace almost runs over boy-bander Duncan James. While this may be funny to UK audiences, Blue aren’t really the most famous band elsewhere in the world.

Another funny moment comes when Liv is talking about a “secret lesbian thing” that occurred when she was in a particularly “man-hating” mood, prior to meeting Edward obviously. While somewhat amusing to begin with, the longer the conversation goes on instead of getting funnier it seems to start veering more towards the offensive.

Help – Courtesy of Ridder Films
Help – Courtesy of Ridder Films /

Help: What goes wrong?

Throughout the film, the acting, while commendable, is quite inconsistent. Characters vary from scene to scene, while sometimes this is clearly intentional as the characters are hiding things and slowly become more and more unhinged, sometimes this just seems to be due to weaker acting. This could potentially have been due to the limited timeframe of filming, as a longer timeframe would have allowed for re-shoots.

Another weak point is the characters themselves, and the amount that is missing in their stories. Despite knowing each other for years Liv and Grace appear somewhat distant from one another and this ultimately lessens the emotional impact of the movie’s big reveals. Had we seen more evidence of their childhood friendship (whether in flashbacks or just photographs) perhaps then, the audience would have felt more emotionally involved in the story. Similarly, Grace is motivated to visit due to her breakup but it’s never mentioned again, even though it’s supposedly quite upsetting for her?

Both of these flaws alongside an unnecessary animal death and predictable plot twist make a film, that despite its interesting premise, ultimately falls flat.

Next. The Unhealer is fun, 80s-style revenge horror. dark

Help releases for digital downloads on February 15. Let us know if you’ll be watching in the comments below.