Parents' Guide to

Held

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Disappointing, bloody thriller about marriage and power.

Movie NR 2021 94 minutes
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This trapped-in-a-house flick starts off well, with genuine suspense and strong characters, but it derails after a sudden turn, leaving its major theme disappointingly unexplored. Written by co-star Awbrey -- who makes her feature debut on both counts -- Held launches with what seems like a genuine married relationship, filled with both recognizable familiarity and tension. And the couple's horrific situation feels like a genuine threat: They're spied on by cameras and unnerved by the loud, sudden jabs of the commanding robotic voice and the constant threat of pain. It's a strong puzzle, populated by characters we care about, not just the usual "types" who shout at each other.

The big plot turn that comes at around the two-thirds mark is better left unmentioned, but it involves a promotional video that's accidentally discovered on someone's computer. The video is jokey, almost a parody that could have been done by SNL or Funny or Die, and its dark humor clashes with what the movie has already accomplished, cheapening it. By extension, the events that come after feel false, too. What could have been a wise, cutting attack on supposed male dominance in society (something like Promising Young Woman) becomes instead a second-tier thriller that goes for cheap shocks and cheap thrills. Held could have grabbed us, but instead it lets go.

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