'Don't Let Go' Review Essay

Don’t Let Go is a 2019 supernatural horror crime thriller film directed by Jacob Aaron Estes and written by Estes, from a story by Estes and Drew Daywalt. The film stars David Oyelowo, Storm Reid, Byron Mann, Mykelti Williamson and Shinelle Azoroh. Jason Blum serves as a producer through his Blumhouse Productions banner, alongside Bobby Cohen and Oyelowo. The film premiered under the title Relive at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. It was released by OTL Releasing, BH Tilt and Briarcliff Entertainment.

After a man’s family dies in what appears to be a murder, he gets a phone call from one of the dead, his niece. He’s not sure if she’s a ghost or if he’s going mad, but as it turns out, he’s not.

Don’t Let Go was a film I was very excited to see. I really love smaller si-fi films like this, and the trailer really pulled me in. However after watching to film I have to say I was a little disappointed. I didn’t think the film was bad, but it could’ve been a whole lot better.

It had a great concept that I was very interested in, and I loved the first 30 minutes of the film. I really cared for the characters, and I was really interested in what was going on. Then they introduced the si-fi element and I loved it. It was intriguing and a little bit creepy in a good way. I wanted to see it explored more, but from there the film unfortunately went down hill.

The phone call between our main character and his niece turned very stale after a while mainly because they didn’t do anything new with it. Each time was the same thing. The film also had a switch halfway through. It went from a very intriguing and engaging si-fi thriller to a more traditional and at times bland crime drama. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t like it either especially because I loved the original direction they were going.

This is a film centered around this si-fi device, but they don’t explain it. To make it worst they didn’t even attempt. It’s frustrating to watch something so interesting not get explored in a meaningful way. It pretty much got put aside for the less interesting crime drama stuff, but they still pushed the si-fi elements. Halfway through the film something happens that’s pretty much unexplainable. From there on there’s a bit of confusion about what exactly is going on. In films that deal with these type of things there’s going to be some confusion and questions, but the film will offer answers. This one did not.

The crime stuff wasn’t bad, but it felt bland. It was standard detective investigation stuff, but it wasn’t at interesting as it could’ve been. It was a very simple clue 1, clue 2, clue 3 type of thing. It was basic, but it still tripped over itself.

The film felt like it was split in half. I loved the first half an it was a intriguing si-fi thriller, but the second dragged the film down at it was a at times good crime drama. This wasn’t a bad film, but it had the potential to be great. I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed.

The acting was one of the best parts about the film. David Oyelowo gives another great performance. He was the best part of the film. The film relied on his performance, and he delivers. Storm Reid was also very good.

I thought the entire cast did a very good job.

The story and plot is where the film fell apart for me. It started off strong. It through you into this world and made you feel for these characters, and made you actually care about what was going on. Then they introduced the si-fi element that made me ask so many questions. How do they follow that up? Well a lot of the momentum gets flushed down the toilet, then they did the midway twist and the film practically flat lined.

They spent 40 minutes with this investigation, but I wasn’t that invested in it. They had something so interesting, but ultimately forgot about it. It was used more as a plot device and an exposition dump. The entire investigation relies on our main character being told and handed the clues. It really didn’t feel earned. The payoff to the investigation also wasn’t great making it feel that much more disappointing.

Overall a great concept and foundation don’t get fully utilized. The plot itself while not bad definitely left a lot on the table, and it is one of the film’s weakest elements.

Overall this was a film I liked, but one I should’ve loved. This is one of the few times were I don’t agree with most critics as the film has a 40% Rotten Tomatoes score, but I understand their rating. I can personally enjoy a film despite it’s flaws, but this film really did push it.

I liked the directing from Jacob Aaron Estes, I thought the film sounded good and I enjoyed the score, the acting was really good, and I loved the si-fi concept. However the film didn’t reach it’s full potential, and it didn’t fully utilise it’s main selling point and it’s most ambitious idea. I thought the worst part of the film was the fact that they didn’t explain anything. In the end your just left with so many questions that simply can’t be answered.

Overall I did enjoy it despite it’s many flaws, but I was still really disappointed.

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