Helen - A Chillingly Real Survival Drama
Mathukutty Xavier's directorial debut 'Helen' opens with Anend C Chandran capturing a girl's room aesthetically by following an ant. The camera keeps going behind it with title credits rolling. And near end, the ant falls into a fridge where a hand places an ice tray. We see the ant chilling to death and the film opens. We wonder why? And the answer reveals quite later.
Helen is a survival drama on a girl who is stuck in the freezer of a KFC restaurant in a mall. With falling temperature and rising anxiety, how she tries to cope up the condition becomes the crux of the film. The real story gets started almost thirty minutes post the beginning. Until then, we see who Helen is. What's her household is like? Who she is in love with? What's her ambitions are! She comes from a small-town Christian family where her father believes mingling with other religion might corrupt her! Yet she prepares for IELTS and decides to move to Canada!
All goes well.. until at one point, conflicts succumb her. Her terms with her father is put on tussle when she is get caught by a local cop in a 'drunk and drive' case. Her boyfriend has to leave to Chennai for his new job. And it is on that day, when she plans to leave, her colleagues ask her to cover up for them by asking her to keep few boxes in freezer. And before she could return, manager locks in and leave! That's when the nightmare begins.
Anna Ben, plays the titular role, Helen. She is vibrant and full of life that she adds a sense of connect to the character much before the trapped episode starts. Her portrayal of the relationship Helen shares with her father is beautifully put across. Lal is brilliant as always. His love for cigars and his daughter comes hand in hand with each other.
And in the sequences inside the freezer, Anna Ben pulls off a great show. From reddened nose and pale hands to a shivering body language.. she convincingly holds the long stretched narrative.
Anend C Chandran's cinematography is on sync with the film's chilling tone. The wobbling camera captures the sense of anxiety and claustrophobia. Shaan Ragman's score and soundtrack supports the two tones of the film adequately. Shammeer Mohammed's editing packs the film tight and gripped up all throughout!
The one-note one line is kept engaging throughout the film by how the sequences are put together. Though the film starts to fall into convenient ways near climax, you sit invested to see the big save. There is an accident when someone comes with a clue. The phone falls off due to vibration and gets switched off. They go to the same station where the inspector (Aju Varghese is wonderfully casted) had history with the characters already. Still.. for a little film on an interesting theme, Helen works way too good.
Mathukutty Xavier's directorial debut, Helen, is a survival drama that's highly engaging. Anna Ben who plays the titular role gives one chilling performance at its best.
Rating : 3/5