Help struggles to be interesting, engaging, or of any interest whatsoever. It needed all the… help, it could get.
Film production took a hit during these uncertain Covid times, with restriction after restriction strangulating every filmmaker out there and forcing everyone into a life of solitude. Well, there were a few films that managed to manoeuvre around the UK lockdown restrictions at least, and Help was one of them. It was filmed in just over 12 days with only 20 cast and crew members, but instead of enjoying Help, you want to scream out for it, because this film will bore the pants off you – and that is not an exaggeration.It doesn’t take long to realize that this film is incredibly slow and tedious; trying its very best to be a suave like mystery crime thriller with attractive characters leading the way. The dialogue is incredibly basic, and the acting is terribly unexciting, that’s not to say it’s bad (although that is up for debate) it’s just not very memorable – I’ve already forgotten who they are. There is obviously some mystery to the story though (it wouldn’t be a supposed crime thriller if it didn’t have something), the atmosphere in the present day is a little hostile, and the flashback scenes do try to establish a rather predictable plotline, but it is just that; very predictable and very bland.
The story revolves around a young woman called… ah yes, Grace (Emily Redpath) who, after a painful breakup, decides to visit her friend Liv (Sarah Alexandra Marks) and her boyfriend Edward (Louis James), who are living the perfect life in the English countryside. All three of them clearly have secrets, it’s written across their faces, and the thing that bothers me most is that from the “first meeting” between Grace and Edward, it is clear as day that they have history, and it won’t take you long to realise what that would be now would it? A mystery film with all the surprise taken out of it, who would have thought it.
Help really has no business being a film, it would feel a lot more fitting as a TV miniseries that have become all the range in the UK in recent years – the erotic mystery shows that litter our television sets and are just one of the same. This ticks all those boxes, it’s just that it was condensed into 90 minutes instead of 4 or 5 episodes. It even had that cliched melodrama feel; the fact that someone is always watching and listening, which has become more than tedious, and the typical love triangle that just has to be included. And like all good crime shows, there was a twist, and one that you could see happening as the film progressed, because it was never going to be as straightforward as how they were showing it to be.
Credit where credit is due though as it’s not all bad because the style and the aesthetic of the film were quite refined and intricate, which is even more impressive when you consider that it was filmed in 12 days. It is nicely shot (nothing too extravagant, nothing too brazen), the editing is simple but effective, the score was more of the same, but it just feels a shame that the outside style was way more appealing, and in the end, it was let down by literally everything else. And once you get to the excitement of the final act (which is graphic and has much-needed violence) you are already so numb from the previous 80 minutes that it’s hard to be affected.
Help is just so incredibly underwhelming; the acting, the story, the dialogue, almost everything. Even the spooky Asian neighbour (played by director Blake Ridder) – who does play a significant part as well – felt very underutilised, it would have surely added another aspect, instead of us having to deal with this very beige love triangle. To make a film in 12 days is no easy feat, and praise must go to the crew whose skill made this watchable, but everything else just felt like a damp squib.