H. (2014) Poster

(I) (2014)

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An oddly interesting film
deacon_blues-38 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
H. is filled with symbolism and contrasting juxtapositioning of material. The film seems to take its title from the main protagonists, two women named Helen who both live in Troy, New York.

One is late middle-aged and a member of "Newborn Angels," a group of childless women who dote upon ultra-lifelike infant dolls as if they were live infants, including setting alarms for 3:00 AM feedings and, yes; even breastfeeding them (or at least pretending to). Helen's husband, Roy, seems devoted to Helen at most times, but there is also an undercurrent of dissatisfaction and boredom in his attitude, especially toward Henry, Helen's reborn infant doll.

The second Helen is younger, perhaps in her early 30s, and is part of a performance art team along with her husband. The focus of their chosen art genre seems to be death, violence, and blood. They have been known to have knock-down, drag-out arguments with each other, including hitting, punching, and bruising one another at times. They include this as part of their art. Helen is expecting a child. Her husband, Alex, is a known philanderer, but he also seems to genuinely love and treasure Helen.

These two women are followed as contrasting parallel stories surrounding a suspected meteor explosion that causes many people in troy to start behaving strangely around the time of the meteor event. Some are convulsed by an ear-splitting whine that precedes the meteor. Others wander away from home and family without knowing where they are going.

The older Helen's husband has a fishing buddy named Harold. Roy and Harold decide to go fishing at nearby Lake George, which also turns out later to be the destination of all the missing people who wander off from their homes. Helen does not hear from Roy for a couple of days after the meteor explosion, and suspects that he must be one of the people who wandered into the field near lake George where all the other missing people have congregated, lying down in the snow in semi-fetal positions.

Many of the missing people are found to have no memory of who they are or how they got to Lake George. When Helen calls the hotline for the families of the missing people, she is told that Roy is not among those found lying in the field near Lake George. She is very upset, and asks if there are any men who have forgotten who they are and have no ID. She is told that they have one such "John Doe" who has not been claimed by anyone yet. She goes to the hospital and finds that the John Doe is not Roy, but is close to the same age. She pretends that he is her Roy and claims him anyway, not revealing the truth to the officials at the hospital.

The younger Helen feels that there something wrong with her unborn child and has a sonogram performed during which the doctors find that there is no fetus present in her womb. They conclude that Helen has suffered a false pregnancy, but Helen will not believe it, insisting that she feels the baby moving and kicking inside her. Around the time of the meteor event, Helen drives to Lake George and winds up lying among the other missing people there. But for unknown reasons she becomes the only fatality among them. Alex is heartbroken over his wife's death. Here the film mysteriously ends.

Two of the major symbols that recur in the course of the film are the stray black horse, which appears in three separate scenes: first blocking the road in front of Roy and Harold's car. Next running through the streets of Troy amidst the confusion of the meteor event. And finally in the woods near Lake George with the younger Helen. Here the black horse appears in two forms: as a normal horse and as a man-horse creature that confronts Helen just before she gets to the field where she lays down and dies.

The other symbol is the giant head of a statue, presumably of Helen of Troy, which is found inexplicably floating in Lake George. It is either the remains of the meteor itself or it was blown off an existing statue somewhere. We are never told where the head or the horse came from during the film or given any specific information about their significance.

This film may bore many people, but I found it really enthralling, especially the reborn doll scenes. I had never heard of such a thing before I saw this film. The dolls captured my interest initially (they really creeped me out personally!) and the other story elements carried me along.
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Interesting, but inconclusive
unkinected3 May 2017
I'm not sure what to make of this movie. The atmosphere is great, haunting and cerebral. The acting is well done. The cinematography is gorgeous. But the story goes no where.

Don't get me wrong, it definitely sets up an interesting world. I was genuinely curious what was going to happen and cared about the characters. But then the movie ended. There was no conclusion to any of the story lines, and nothing to even lead the viewer to draw his or her own conclusions about the strange things that took place. This really was only 3/4 of a movie - I'm not sure the writer/director even knew what they were trying to get across, other than, "let's show some mysterious stuff on a screen."

So I wanted to like this movie, but ultimately it was unsatisfying. Watch it for the mood and the ride, but don't expect a revelation of any sort.
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Effective, mesmerising and stunning to watch
sarahrich299527 February 2015
I saw 'H' at Berlinale this year and I thought that this film was brilliant. I loved the characters, both Helen's and their juxtaposing yet equally heart provoking struggle with children really captured my attention. The ending was also something spectacular and heart wrenching. Also, I found the twists in the myth to be just enough that the film had a 'modern day' feel without deviating from the originals too much.

It was visually stunning, the cinematography and transitions between shots and even 'Acts' were very pleasing to the eye, as were the location choices. I feel however that if you were not completely familiar with the myths you may be quite confused for a small portion of the film, until it became obvious to every viewer what was happening. Saying that, I would absolutely recommend this film to anyone even slightly interested in mythology, and even if you are not.
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Eerie, really well done.
rebelryans5 November 2016
There is nothing better than when a movie frightens you, or disturbs you without having to throw special effects at you from around a dark corner. I almost didn't watch this. I am glad I did. This is not a horror film. But it has that perfect blend of an off putting mood, and an unsettling atmosphere. If you like scary movies because of the vibe of the movie and not the special effects, this is a diamond in the ruff. These kind of movies are so rare, unfortunately. It is an apocalyptic movie, without the actual apocalypse. At times you feel like there are religious under tones. They leave a lot of the elements of the what feels to be inevitable unfolding of the end of world to your imagination, but give you enough to know that something unearthly is happening.
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Intricate and eerie; I loved it!
danaewillis-068948 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I thought this movie was extremely well done and thoroughly creepy. A few things of note: several of the tropes in this film were actually based on real events that happened in New York State (the giant floating head in the river, the horse on the loose in city streets, etc). A black horse also symbolizes death in various mythos, which makes sense that the horse would appear to young Helen shortly before her death.

Something else that I haven't seen mentioned anywhere is the possibility that Roy and Harold are lovers and took this strange happening as their chance to run off together. My evidences for the aforementioned are as follows: 1) just before the meteor explodes, we see Roy and Harold in the cabin sitting on a couch. Harold is snuggled up to Roy and asleep on his shoulder. 2) Older Helen goes searching for Roy at Harold's apartment and Harold's neighbor confirms that she knows who Roy is, but hasn't seen either man since before the event. Adding, confusedly, that she didn't even know Roy was married. 3.) Helen sees Roy and Harold entering a store and calls out to them without response. 4.) Roy expresses to Harold how he wishes to be rid of Helen. And 5) Helen knows Roy isn't returning so she claims the John Doe. Though it is also possible that Roy and Harold were killed when the meteor exploded as the black horse appeared to them on their way to the cabin.

All in all, this was a great puzzler movie that leaves you thinking and questioning long after the credits roll.
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A Bit Too Self-Indulgent
samkan9 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I agree with the three (to date) other COMMENTERs that "H." was intriguing and suspenseful. Indeed, the foreboding score, pacing, direction and script captivate. Further the acting was top notch, particularly Robin Bartlett. But ..........

The Greek mythology references sink in in timely fashion; i.e., "Helen(s)" of Troy, a horse, an intrusion, a bust/statue, etc. But though liberal arts degreed with knowledge of Western Civilization I'm unable to make a connection of classical Helen or the Trojan Horse with the people or events in this film. There's also the "baby" parallel of "H."'s two Helens, though again I'm clueless how such may be related. Also, how am I to interpret the several descriptions of how the comet event and hysteria manifests itself; e.g., wall-staring, black-outs, uniform fetal and cloud patterns?

Still, "H." is quirky and creepy enough to surpass the usual fodder passing for sci-fi and fantasy today. My disappointments may be hypocritical as I've championed the use of vagueness and ambiguity in science fiction and the supernatural. Indeed there is wisdom in avoiding the clumsy, heavy- handed task of trying to explain, convince, etc., a viewer of what is otherwise inexplainable, nonsensical, etc. . Watch; e.g., UNDER THE SKIN, THE WAIT, I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE, good films that apply sid wisdom. But "H." ranks just below these examples as it makers just take the viewer way out on a limb and leaves he/she at the tip looking out. In the end, however, I'd watch something else by Rania Attieh, if only for her sheer chutzpah.
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H.- Half a movie
gmerczel25 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This movie, while strangely compelling and relatively well acted (which is why I did not give it zero stars), was H.orrible. It was as if some High-Schoolers decided to make a movie with strange images and no plot. This movie is reminiscent of those very strange, low budget, eastern European art films. This movie has an incredibly dismal and depressing feel to it. If that is the only intention, they succeeded. A dismal feel should be done purposefully. There is no connection between the story and the feel of the movie. Random images strewn haphazardly about without even the meagerest of explanation or connection adds to the pointlessness of this film. *spoiler alert, maybe*. Was the high pitched noise a meteor? How does this cause water on the floor? Why was the field of lost souls near Lake George? Horse? And then a horse/man creature? Floating rock/head? Why does an old woman commit to a life-like baby doll? And, continues to pretend the doll is real even after her husband goes missing? Then wash-kills it? A young woman that is pregnant, then not, then is, then isn't? Post-apocalyptic? Pre-apocalyptic? If you like those Czech or Yugoslav art films, you MAY like this. I, for one, am glad I did not spend money to see this one.
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half-remembered mythology writ in the rust belt
FieCrier8 October 2017
The film is apt to be somewhat fun to watch for anyone familiar with Troy, Rensselaer County, New York, though likely far slower and artier than the average viewer is apt to enjoy. There are lots of local businesses that appear, and roads that are recognizable like Hoosick Road, Oakwood Avenue and probably Farrell Road. The geography is a little confusing when it comes to the Lake George references. Lake George is more than a little than "just outside of Troy" as it's described - it's about an hour's drive north and two counties away.

The Helen statue's head that's seen floating along - that's not in Lake George as some viewers interpret it, but in the Hudson River that runs along the west side of the City of Troy.

The story? You're best off turning to interviews of the directors online. Childhood readings of Greek mythology, not revisited, contributed as well as some real-life things abut which they'd read, further influenced by the eventual choice of Troy as the primary shooting location.
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A more interesting movie is playing out in the background of this one
phenomynouss24 February 2018
This title keeps getting pushed further and further up the list of Sci-Fi/Fantasy films so eventually, having drained much of the selection, I went for this one.

The overly pretentious introductory credit sequence should have clued me in but I am not averse to "art"-y films that tend to linger and rely on soft music cues and sometimes inexplicable imagery to get a message across, usually so long as there is an actual message, even if the message is one of entertainment.

Despite my patience for such styles of film, what leaves me decidedly impatient is a film that meanders about, either taking entirely too long to actually begin its storytelling in the mistaken belief that its initial setting and/or its characterizations are strong enough to hold up for nearly 1/3rd of the film's runtime without actually going anywhere (and in this case, it entirely is not), or simply being insufferable.

The characters we are introduced to in this film are insufferable. The elderly couple begins its time onscreen as being almost cute. But the longer the film drags on, leaving us with little actual subject matter and leaving us wondering what the film's name even is, the more this couple becomes insufferable. They banter about in the sort of empty-headed, inane manner that is the punchline of stereotypical Midwestern moron type characters.

What is further infuriating is that the elderly woman dotes over a disgustingly realistic infant doll, treating it like a real baby, even in public. It's horrifying to look at, and one character, a cashier, glares at it in horror and then nothing further is made of it.

After a grueling 20 minutes or so, we finally move on to the next couple, a younger one that is described as being "artistic", engaging in photography that tends to be extremely violent, with the two of them apparently often violently attacking each other for their art. I say they are "described" as such because this plays absolutely no role in their story going onward.

This woman is pregnant, and by this point in the film, happily, we've gone through enough empty film that we can start up the actual plot with this couple.

In short, stuff is happening. That's about as vague as it gets because that's about as vague as the film wants it to get. It's not Nothing happening, it's clearly something. Some manner of explosion occurred over this small town, which news reports claim to be a meteor, and now some people are going missing, some people are walking around in fugue states, some people are suffering burst blood vessels in their eyes, and black horses randomly appear in places.

We get about half way through the film before these events start to unfold, culminating in the ultimate sense of "what the fuddery" as the younger Helen goes to the doctor and... she's not pregnant. She didn't have a miscarriage, she didn't lose the baby, it's just... gone.

Unfortunately, so much time has passed in the film thus far that I as a viewer have completely and utterly disconnected from the characters and the plot. I no longer care for them in any way and have no thoughts on the film other than wondering how soon it will end.

There is nothing to this film in terms of writing, acting, cinematography, or sound design that can hold one's attention long enough to sustain sitting through this incoherent dribble waiting for actual story to unfold. Everything is "average", "acceptable", "ably performed and executed".

It's immensely disappointing that as the film unfolds, more and more insanity and inexplicable phenomena unfold, and yet by the time this all has happened, the film has blown its proverbial load on essentially nothing. A pack of boring, two-dimensional characters, lots of quiet, unremarkable music, and a broad sense of moodiness over nothing in particular.

We are essentially watching a science fiction horror movie unfolding in the background. We are watching a group of ordinary, average people living their lives while a history-making paranormal event is unfolding just off-screen via brief news snippets and occasional background interactions.

Maybe that stuff is lush fodder for "artsy" movies like this, but it was just plain boring and a dismal waste of so much time.
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I was highly insulted...
tony5254 May 2017
I felt as though I was tricked into watching this mess of a "movie" with the 6.1 rating here. It never went anywhere. What's with the nutty ladies and the dolls?. The floating head? That silly horse creature. I could go on and on but I wasted enough of my time on this disaster of a show already. It works better than Ambien.
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Waste of 90 Minutes
steven-pollack25 February 2018
I wish I could get the 90 minutes I spent on this movie back. What a horrible aimless film. If you like staring at a tree for 3 minutes at a time and zero satisfaction at the end, then this is the movie for you. If not, then pick something else.
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