A fraught and clever tension movie with strong performances and a topical twist to round the experience off nicely.
The plot follows the arrival of a married couple at a secluded apartment in a rather strained attempt to celebrate their anniversary, whilst rekindling their struggling marriage. Its not long that tensions begin to rise, with the wife arriving first, she’s already propositioned at the door by her cab driver! Alone she clearly feels vulnerable and whilst she does her best to settle in, its only when her husband finally arrives, she begins to relax.
This of course is only relatively short lived. Drugged and then sedated, the two find themselves awoken by a booming voice issuing a single command – Obey! With their apartment wired with both video and audio surveillance, and implanted with a rather painful sonic device, from then on in the two must comply with the bizarre and rather traditional marital instructions and role play…
Whilst the plot itself is far from unique with regards to either the voyeuristic nature, or the role-playing psychopath, with the brisk and solid setup ‘Held’ makes its easy to invest in its scenario, and regardless of the typicality of this type of plot, you can’t help but be intrigued.
There is nothing particularly standout about the films location, nor indeed its two main characters, but this only serves to play to the films strengths as it makes the experience seem all the more ‘real’. That said, the writing is strong and the mature cast offer up solid, believable performances adding some credibility to their plight. Similarly, the set pieces in ‘Held’ manage to stick firmly in the realms of the conceivable opting to brush off the easy options for cliched dialogue and stupid character reactions in favour of more rational though and actions from the captors – after all, with instructions such as ‘make dinner for your husband’ and ‘a good husband will always open the door for his wife’ , this is a bit of a distance away from your typical home-grown slasher ‘Jigsaw’ psycho!
That said, things escalate quickly when the role-plays become more personal and revealing to the couples’ individual indiscretions. That said nothing can really prepare you for the reveal in the story, which isn’t mind bending or anything like that, but it is innovative! – say no more for fear of ruining your viewing.
As you might expect from my comments so far, ‘Held’ leans a lot on its characterisation and tension built by the intrigue around the mystery of its cryptic scenario, all of which are suitably effective. In terms of typical horror elements ‘Held’ has got a definite home invasion feel, especially given the sparse, but effective use of CCTV shots, and then, despite the lack of any mentionable gore there are a number of set-pieces which are reminiscent of torture-porn style movie; but don’t expect any real violence, as, like said, this movie is a taut thriller from start to finish.
Overall ‘Held’ is an effective movie. Whilst its scope, cast and location might be limited, its impact is far from. Whilst its arguable that many of the film’s core components have been done before, tight pacing and equally on-point performances make the impact the plot needed to at just the right moments, with a killer reveal to boot. Recommended.