Held parents guide

Held Parent Guide

A mediocre offering in a crowded field, this horror film has nothing new to offer.

Overall C-

Digital on Demand: Emma and Henry Barrett are off for a weekend getaway to a secluded property to boost their ailing marriage. Dreams turn to nightmares when they find themselves trapped by a mysterious man who's threatening their lives.

Release date April 9, 2021

Violence D
Sexual Content D
Profanity C
Substance Use C

Why is Held rated Not Rated? The MPAA rated Held Not Rated

Run Time: 94 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Emma (Jill Awbrey) and Henry Barrett (Bart Johnson) are having marital problems, but they have a plan. A secluded weekend retreat at a beautiful modern property is just what they both need… until things start going terribly wrong. On the first morning at the house, Emma wakes up in clothes she wasn’t wearing when she went to sleep, with coffee on the table which neither of them made. Creepiest of all, both Emma and Henry have strange subcutaneous implants behind their ears. They soon learn what’s going on: an ominous voice comes over hidden speakers informing them that they are, essentially, prisoners for the weekend. Failure to comply with the mysterious and intrusive instructions results in agonizing pain from the implant. As the day drags on, the couple learn more about one another than they might have liked…

I feel like there’s been a glut of movies with this premise lately. Marriage troubles leading to isolated vacations seems to be the first part of a recipe that ends in at least one murder. In terms of recent releases, Red Dot, Happily, and The Rental all spring to mind. In the interests of fairness, I suppose I should judge this film primarily by its competition. Short answer? It’s not as good.

Not that any of the competition are exactly stellar horror/thrillers to start with - and that’s a pretty low bar, given that The Rental is probably the “scariest” of the bunch. The problem for Held is how similar it is to the rest of the field. Nothing quite spoils a thriller like knowing what’s going to happen next. While Held isn’t as predictable as, say, Every Breath You Take, it still colors well inside the lines. The only thing that really stands out about this one is the plot focus on misogyny and as much as I appreciate films that condemn violent misogyny, this theme is also the source of some of the most unpleasant parts of the film.

There are two non-graphic rape scenes, which means I can’t recommend this movie to teen audiences, or frankly to pretty much anyone else. Although, apart from that, this film has much milder content than most horror features. There is some limited graphic violence, but remarkably little swearing and no drug use. On top of the negative content, the movie has frequent scenes of rapidly flashing lights, and if you’re prone to headaches (or perhaps certain kinds of epilepsy) watching this could be a really bad idea. Since sitting through this show, I feel as if someone dumped a box of thumbtacks inside my skull. Although hardcore horror fans might enjoy this movie, my advice to everyone else is “Spare yourself and find a better film”.

Directed by Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing. Starring Jill Awbrey, Bart Johnson, and Rez Kempton. Running time: 94 minutes. Theatrical release April 9, 2021. Updated

Watch the trailer for Held

Rating & Content Info

Why is Held rated Not Rated? Held is rated Not Rated by the MPAA

Violence: People are subjected to extreme pain from an involuntary implant. There are several violent beatings. A person is fatally stabbed in the chest, and another is stabbed non-fatally in the thigh. One character is shown performing amateur surgery with car keys. An individual is struck in the head with a shovel and killed. There are depictions of and references to murder and domestic violence.
Sexual Content: There are two scenes implying rape, although there is no graphic sexual content seen. There is a scene with similar levels of non-explicit content depicting adultery. There are several instances of extreme misogyny in dialogue. An individual is shown from the shoulders up in the shower.
Profanity: There are our uses of scatological profanity and occasional mild cursing and use of terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult individuals are seen drinking, sometimes to excess. Several individuals are involuntarily drugged.

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As I mentioned before, The Rental, Happily, and Red Dot are all recently released films with a similar premise. Get Out would be my recommended alternative. Horror fans might also enjoy The Shining, which is one of the finest examples of horror in cinematic history. Not to overstate things. If you’re interested in what the film has to say about misogyny and domestic violence, Promising Young Woman takes a much larger bite out of the subject and does it better.