Film Review: “Held”

Jill Awbrey and Bart Johnson in HELD, a Magnet release. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Lots of couples have a turbulent marriage. Some find a compromise and live on, whereas some break the union and leave for good. But what happens when someone is unfaithful? You may say it happens a lot, and so what? Be ready, though, because “Held” will hold you accountable for any negative thought you may have towards it without having a second look at it.

In “Held”, Emma (Jill Awbrey) and Henry (Bart Johnson) are on the verge of losing the last remaining connection that holds their fragile marriage together. Hoping to reignite the spark and keep their existence afloat, they make one last attempt. By spending their vacation in a remote area, in a high-tech house — smart enough to give them the sense of security and intimacy, the two expects for a dream come true. However, their wish for a second honeymoon turns into a nightmarish experience with the unseen Voice taking control over the rented house and asking them to obey it, else face death.

This film, in particular, is quite creative for shifting the narrative from what you expect to a somewhat twisted and unpredicted outcome, which will remind you, slightly though, of the friendlier version of “The Stepford Wives.” As soon as they moved into their rented vacation home, everything turns upside down. The voice demands the couple to obey or face the consequences of their actions. He promises that if they comply with everything he asks, Emma and Henry will leave the facility both in peace and in one piece.

A weird training begins where Henry must be a true gentleman and Emma must play the role of a wife. The story offered is so engaging that you kind of wait for something bigger to happen. Luckily, you do not have to wait long, as the last twenty minutes of the film give you much more than you could expect. The entire film is based on Emma and Henry being kept hostage by an unseen voice, but, to be honest, there is no need to see the man behind that commanding voice to realize how cruel he can be if he deems it necessary.

“Held”, written by the lead actress Jill Awbre, and from directors Travis Cliff and Chris Loving, is not the perfect depiction of controlling masculinity through power and force, but close enough to capture the fear of losing a statue of a man in a woman’s mind. Especially, important to be noted, when in the actual world, more or less, men cannot accept the idea of women making good money, being in a good job and just be free. “Held” is not just a typical horror film where a couple is forced to face their demons. It’s about what they do to come out of that situation unhurt, albeit traumatized.

“Held” is not an average film you might think of. It has its story well-shaped, creates an atmospheric environment, lets the actors play their part and allows the story to unfold at its own pace. Believe it or not, it’s engaging, too, as you really want to know why the unseen voice wants to train Henry and Emma to be better to each other. What’s his goal? However, be ready for some scenes or part of the story that literally makes no sense. But as soon as you reach the most defining scene, anything negative you felt about the film will vanish because of its satisfactory conclusion that is significantly better than what most high-profile films offer.

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