A call from her boyfriend and an ultimatum; Chris is trying to save their long-distance relationship but is Grace? He wants to see her, but she doesn’t seem invested, unwilling to make any effort, and so he says goodbye for the last time. Without pause, without a moment to reflect or gather herself, she scrolls through her directory; will she tell her best friend since childhood Liz, or will she message Liz’s boyfriend Ed?
Showing up at their converted farmhouse bearing a gift for Ed’s birthday as welcome as the plague, the visit is awkward, the conversation stilted; is Grace staying the night? Why did the neighbour, David, warn her that things were bad in the house? Ed cooks dinner, drinking progresses, secrets are told, they retire for the night, but through the walls Grace can hear muffled voices and noises which tell her all is not as it should be.
Written and directed by Blake Ridder who also appears in a supporting role as David, Help is an erotic thriller as hot and steamy as yesterday’s greasy dishwater, a three hander with Louis James and Sarah Alexandra Marks as Ed and Liv and Emily Redpath as outsider Grace, the first impression of her as selfish confirmed and compounded with arrogant carelessness as she almost collides with a jogger while fumbling for her mobile when behind the wheel.
Together for ten months yet acting as strangers towards each other and their presumably uninvited guest, the only warmth is shown by affectionate puppy Polly, Ed and Liz’s house as pristine and impersonal as a show home, cold and uninviting and the cast never convincing that these are friends let alone intimate, the dialogue less of adults than of teenagers trying to act grown-up in the absence of their parents.
The fractured narrative covering multiple visits through which there is no evolution of the relationships or change in the seasons to cue the viewer to assemble the timeline, Ed is established as a lawyer involved in a high profile case and Grace is training in forensics; neither of these backgrounds become pertinent to the plot other than to establish that with Grace sadly having had to give up her horse riding hobby and Liz not working, her art classes and piano lessons funded by her boyfriend, it is Ed who is the wealthiest of the three.
That said, the reason why Ed keeps rolls of £50 notes in the safe in his home gym/office is similarly overlooked other than being necessary to push the animosity to violence, the scheme for revenge ludicrous and poorly thought out in every one of its baby steps and the final act rug-pull revealing only the dust hidden beneath before a death scene which makes the dying swan seem restrained. With sad piano substituting for emotion, the cry for Help is more a plea for depth or complexity than a call for urgent assistance; Les Diaboliques it is not.
Help will be available on Digital Download from Tuesday 15th February