By Daniel King
The debut feature from writer-director Edward Palmer, HIPPOPOTAMUS is an intriguing British psychological thriller that bodes well for his future career. It tells the story of Ruby (Ingvild Deila) who wakes up in a bare room unable to remember anything about her past.
She soon learns that she has apparently been kidnapped by Tom (Stuart Mortimer) who has broken her legs to prevent her escape. He tells her that she will remain there until she falls in love with him and that’s what sets this film apart from others of its ilk, such as THE ROOM: it focuses on the twisted love story that entwines the two.
Largely eschewing violent action or incident the film is a slow burner which builds skilfully to a satisfying conclusion and that – sustaining tension and building anticipation – is one of the hardest tricks to pull off. Mostly set bound, naturally enough, the film does open out in the second half as the reality of the situation starts to emerge.
The script is coherent and logical – it could have been a stage or even radio play – even though the premise that surrounds it is wildly implausible. Palmer draws good performances from his leads and they achieve the neat trick of making the viewer feel sympathy for both characters.
If I had one criticism it’s that, once again, a film offers for our entertainment images of a pretty young woman being subjected to physical and mental abuse. I know that has been a staple of cinema since the year dot but surely it ought to have moved on by now?
That largely personal gripe aside HIPPOPOTAMUS is a very well made and totally gripping film that deserves your attention.