A marriage counselling horror flick? Just remember to open the door for your wife….
After briefly reenergizing the found footage genre with the pretty decent The Gallows (lets not talk about the sequel), directors Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff turning their attentions to marriage strife in this odd but compelling story of a couple getting the worst counselling on record.
Starting with a flashback and a horrible act, the story kicks in a few years later with Emma (Jill Awbrey) still scarred from that ordeal and rightly feeling uncomfortable when asked numerous questions from an overly inquisitive driver who is taking her to the middle of nowhere for a much needed getaway.
The destination? A house with all the new modern technology which thanks to a lovely overhead shot we get to see is smack in the middle of a a vast forest, with nothing nearby and where no one can hear you scream.
It feels like we all set to embark on yet another home/holiday invasion in which the strangers come knocking, but thankfully the plot skips the usual cliché setting and decides to take its time establishing some foreboding tension as Emma spends a bit just aimlessly walking around the house, taking a nice swim in the outdoor pool and drinking some wine, until a knock on the door brings a bunch of roses to the step and then finally her husband Henry (Bart Johnson) turns up for a few days of hoping to save their marriage.
A few more glasses of wine between them and some talk which establishes all is not well between the two, Emma soon starts to feel dizzy and collapses on the bed with Henry soon following. They awake with Emma in an outfit she did not have on before she went to bed, implants behind their ears and a booming voice throughout the house that robotically tells them “You must obey!”, because if not….a very nasty voltage shock rings through their head and throughout their body.
Unlike Jigsaw, this person is not interested in torture games but to help the couple repair their marriage in which he believes in old fashioned values as he instructs Henry that “a man should open the door for his wife,” when Emma is set to open one and then tells his wife that she should. “Smile, and thank your husband,”, and oddly tells them later on that they have to make love, a weird and uncomfortable moment, more so when you know of Emma’s backstory.
If you are asking where is the horror? Well blood does get spilled as we race towards the final showdown, thanks to a plot flip – which was not a massive shock- helping the film change pace and move towards more of A Stepford Wives kind of caper and while HELD doesn’t really offer anything new, a solid performance by Awbrey means you’ll be rooting for her through out, even when the plot goes off the rails towards the end.
3 HATCHETS OUT OF 5