Written & Directed by Thor Moreno
Claire and Ned are driving at night on their way to see family and show off the new addition to their family - a child. But while changing a flat tire, Ned is severely injured. The more time that passes, the more paranoid Ned becomes, convinced that something sinister lurks outside.
This short is claustrophobic. It’s intense and it’s genuinely more unsettling than most full length features I have seen in recent years. The opening scenes provide us with some nice, neat back story. It’s nothing too complicated or exaggerated so we can immediately relate to the characters. It grounds them in reality and helps the threat seem more real. Even the ‘Good Samaritan’ character displays a sturdy humanity in his defense of the family during his brief time.
The direction is fantastic. There’s no blood, guts and gore. There doesn’t need to be. The absence of any of the above affords us the opportunity and freedom to do something as a viewer that we are rarely permitted – use our own imagination. We are never shown the menace stalking the family. We are left unsure until the credits as to whether it is all in Ned’s mind. The menace is whatever we imagine it to be. Shot in black and white, the film is very reminiscent of a good Hitchcock thriller. The fact that we only ever really see the ultimate target - the baby through the eyes of the threat in the woods is chilling and the whole experience leaves a sinister chill in the air.
This film is truly subjective. To each viewer, a new conclusion is imagined. That is why it is so creative and only one of the reasons it is so watchable. The two leads carry the intensity with distinction and really tap into the sudden turmoil their characters face whilst desperately trying to stay strong as a family. Even the credits are not allowed to roll without further intrigue as the scene is discovered by a patrol car. Only giving us the voices as we watch a black screen treats us to one final fright. My only real disappointment is that it is a short and not a feature. I would love to the see the menace unleashed and the mystery unraveled.
To read more about writer & director of 'Helpless' Thor Moreno check out a few cinematic moments with Thor Moreno.