Hold

By Jonathan Blagrove | Drama
A man sits in an empty parking lot. His family is in danger and everything is unravelling...

Tommy is sitting in an empty parking lot in his car at night. He's ignoring calls, sets an alarm... and waits. He takes only one call at first: from his wife, who thinks he's at work at the office. He seems to be a man avoiding revealing the truth about his employment to his family.

But then Tommy is forced to answer a repeated caller, and soon more lies begin to unravel. And eventually, the deceptions intersect, leading Tommy to the precipice of a dangerous choice.

Written by Lynda Williams and directed by Jonathan Blagrove, this short thriller starts with an uneasy sense of stillness and quiet, with a seemingly simple setup of a man in a car. Deceptively calm, the atmosphere is one of killing time, with little action, dialogue or camera movement.

But as the film unfurls and precisely framed images lay out breadcrumbs, the few details begin to paint a suggestive picture. An alarm is set; messages are received; calls are ignored. The only phone call taken so far soon reveals enough backstory to fill in the character and the stakes. The storytelling is lean, efficient and admirably economical, slowly constructing a situation of lies, shame and deception. The fact that most of the information is relayed through dialogue and sound while still generating intrigue and tension speaks to the discipline and excellence of the writing and editing. Though the film takes place entirely inside a car, there's enough dynamism and conflict to hold and compel steady attention.

Soon viewers have enough to know what exactly is happening in Tommy's life, and more importantly, what's at stake for him if he succeeds or fails. This story momentum coincides with increased tension in the craftsmanship, from an amped-up score to more quickfire editing. Actor Robert Whitelock, too, ably captures the dawning realization of a man whose web of deception has been found out and whose world is slowly crumbling before his eyes. But in a brilliant juxtaposition, the outside pressure upon Tommy ramps us. And Tommy must react and choose quickly, making what is likely the most important and dangerous decision of his life.

"Hold" then careens into a pulse-pounding climax, when the full rush of action and tension jets forward, pulling both Tommy and viewers into the unknown. It's all the more effective because it reflects Tommy's own emotional landscape, as the knot of mistakes covered up with deceit comes undone in a disastrous way. And it makes for a particularly emotionally immersive conclusion -- fitting for a powerfully controlled thriller that exhibits an unusual take on its genre, and covers immense ground in its short run-time.




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