Help (2022) 

While visiting a friend, a young woman discovers secrets some may have preferred remain hidden. 

Written and directed by Blake Ridder, Help is a film that wants to be a suspenseful drama with some twists and turns. As a first feature film, there is some good in here, but overall, the story falls a bit flat as the characters are not particularly likable. While the story does its best to keep things close to the vest and throw clues in a few different directions, the film overall does not feel particularly intriguing, even as events unfold in a way that should create some suspense, perhaps even some dread. The film overall falls flat on those fronts and it leads to the story coming off, well, a bit off. Throughout the film, there is this feeling that there is something here, something not being utilized, something that just screams to be allowed to shine, but it’s not given its time and the film ends in an almost predictable, definitely frustrating way. A few scenes shine in terms of writing and execution, but the scenes that seem to be meant to surprise or shock so not attain their goals.  

The cast here does ok on most front, meaning that they play their characters as they seem to have been written. The lead of Grace played by Emily Redpath is the one who gets the better development and the acting by Redpath is on track with that. Her work here is quite good and she gives her character life in a way that is fairly believable. The characters of Liv and Edward played by Sarah Alexandra Marks and Louis James both come off fairly insufferable which may be from the writing or from the acting, something here is not clicking and it causes the film and their presence to just not come together in the best of ways. Director Blake Ridder gave himself the part of David, a nosy neighbor who has some clear challenges he is working with, but the way he comes off on screen is a bit not-quite-right. It seems almost like a caricature at times, which breaks the effect this character could have had on the story. Rounding out the cast are three other folx who have very little screentime, one of them being pop singer Duncan James who is all over the marketing received for this, yet has a sneeze-and-you’ll-miss-it part, so it’s not entirely clear why they are pushing his presence so much. 

In terms of looks, the film looks like a glossy British television movie. The cinematography by Samuel Pearce is good overall in terms that things are well-framed, well-lit, and well-shot, but the film does have that “made for tv” look in the end. One good point here, the darker scenes are shot in a way where the viewer can actually see what is going on, so kudos there. 

Help is a film that wants to be more, but ends up feeling generic from almost start to end. There are a few good ideas in here and the delivery unfortunately messes them up. This is one of those frustrating films as it’s clear there is something here, it’s just jumbled and made to please so many folx that it ends up not really hitting the mark.