The poorly titled HH is under the impression that its conceit is original and that such originality is all it needs to bring to the table. Both assumptions are wrong on a number of levels. To start, HH’s plot concerns a group of strangers waking up in an unfamiliar location, with nary a memory of how they got there, and now they must team up to figure out how to escape.
Here is a truncated list of movies released in 2000 onward with remarkably similar plots to the poorly titled HH– Cube 2: Hypercube, Cube Zero, Circle, Breathing Room, and Nine Dead. Granted, the Bryan Ribeiro penned movie does reveal (a little too early) that HH is a game show. Even with that in mind, Andron, co-starring Alec Baldwin, does something very similar (minus the strangers waking up part of the plot) and is only a few years old.
Vi (Amelia Dudley) wakes up in a room, as Ray (Reginald Keith Jackson) is trying to unlock the door. After a momentary freakout, as neither one of them recall how they got into this college lecture room, they discover that there is a puzzle to be solved. They solve it, and the door opens.
The duo is greeted by the digital host of the game show, visualized as a cat emoji named Schrodinger (Alysia Dorhout). She explains the rules- get to nine points and discover the secret to escaping this event. Points are rewarded after each room escape (via solving different puzzles and riddles) during the Help/ Hinder section; thus it is called HH.
The contestants are separated and must choose Help or Hinder. If both choose Help, then they each gain two points. If they both choose Hinder, no points are awarded. If one chooses Help and the other Hinder, then the former loses a point, and the latter gets three points. If a person reaches zero points, they die.
“…they discover that there is a puzzle to be solved. They solve it, and the door opens.”
The teammates then go room to room solving puzzles and choosing help each time. After a bit, they run into two other players, Matty (Corrie Legge) and JT (Kenneth Kriheli). Just as everyone was starting to trust their partners, Schrodinger reassigns teams. Now, they must reevaluate if they can trust these new players and discover who is always choosing hinder. Who survives to the end? Does Vi ever recover all of her memories?
There is nothing wrong with telling a story that has been done before; after all, it’s the execution of the material that matters. Ribeiro directs as well and fails to bring energy or excitement to the proceedings. The rooms and hallways are all interchangeable, with only the kind of puzzle in each room varying to some degree. This gives the movie a stale visual palette, which translates to a dull watch. While the interactive screen that is the host offers brief reprives from the humdrum white walls and fluorescent lighting, it isn’t enough.
The acting doesn’t exactly help matters along either, except for Corrie Legge. As the young, angry Matty, Legge is electrifying and her impulsiveness translates well between the character as written and acted. This marks her as the only noteworthy person in the movie, as she has a personality trait. The rest of the cast flail about hopelessly, failing to hit even one authentic emotionally note the entire time. That they don’t share any chemistry can’t be blamed on the thespians, but that too does a disservice to HH.
Now, on to the terrible title. The best titles are punchy, communicates the genre, and tells the audience a little something about the movie it represents. The Hateful Eight informs the viewer that eight people are quite livid about X; X to be filled in by watching the movie. Laid To Rest assures its audience that death is involved; again the specifics of how are gleaned by watching the production.
“…Legge is electrifying and her impulsiveness translates well between the character as written and acted.”
Movie titles can also be esoteric to some degree and still totally work. The House Of The Laughing Windows is not concise and not clear about what it represents. However, it is so odd it is memorable and does convey the sense of mystery that runs rampant throughout the Italian surrealist horror flick.
With all that in mind, what can a random person who stumbles across HH surmise from that title? Not a single thing. Their first thought is probably going to be that it is a biopic of H.H. Holmes, the first serial killer. After that, they’ll maybe try word associations to affix to the acronym. Undoubtedly, no one’s brain is going to think ‘game show’ or low-fi cinema when reading this. Even in the context of the movie, it is a dumb shorthand for just one aspect of the game, so not even the essence of this experiment comes across in-universe.
Why so many words about the title of this movie? In part, because it is an awkward, lousy title (easily one of the dumbest I have ever come across) and in part, because there is not much else to say about the film. HH is not as original as it thinks it is, has no style to speak, is mostly badly acted (save for Legge), apes from dozens upon dozens of more exciting movies, and its ending means absolutely nothing, changes nothing, and accomplishes nothing. That means that all in all HH is an incredible waste of time.
HH (2018) Directed by Bryan Ribeiro. Written by Bryan Ribeiro. Starring Amelia Dudley, Reginald Keith Jackson, Corrie Legge, Kenneth Kriheli, Alysia Dorhout.
2 Gummi Bears (out of 10)