Barret Mulholland’s ‘Grip’ Short Film Review: Life, Death and Redemption

Described as a powerful story of addiction, redemption and forgiveness by Actress Berna Roberts (read our interview here), Grip immediately sparked my intrigue. I can certainly say that this short film, which served as Barret Mulholland’s directorial debut, does not disappoint. This dark drama utilizes every crucial moment incorporating an outstandingly layered backstory and character development while showcasing a talented cast within its brief 15 minute runtime.

Berna Roberts as Suzy in 'Grip'
Berna Roberts as Suzy in ‘Grip’

Opening with Mark (Adam Dorsey: Chasing the Dollar 2016) sharing his personal, tragic story of loss in a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, Grip immediately goes straight for the heart, mixing real-life horror in the form of shock and death. However, tension fills the air when Suzy (Berna Roberts: Puppet, Ugly Sweater Party) enters the room. Mark’s story and Suzy’s obvious pregnancy, combined with Dorsey and Robert’s outstanding performances, make an exchange of words unnecessary to see the bitterness, resentment and regret between the two addiction survivors.

While Suzy may be clean and sober, there’s more to her presence at NA than what’s first suspected. Upon revealing that Suzy is in an abusive relationship, there is a confrontation that sets events in motion, putting forth an opportunity for reconciliation. What unravels is a heartfelt twist of fate and a gift of life after another is lost.

Pulling no punches, Grip encompasses an array of emotions, capturing the struggle of addicts coming to terms with past mistakes as they pick up the pieces left in the disastrous wake of self-destruction. Not only are the layers of plot and character development impressively conveyed in such a short runtime, but there are key elements serving as a strong reminder of the award-winning film, Smashed, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane 2016) and Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad TV series). It comes as no surprise that this short film garnished three well deserved awards of its own on its recent festival run.

Grip has a pending release for this summer, and because of its success, is rumored to soon be adapted into a full-feature with its original creator, Barret Mulholland, taking the director’s chair. If this feature comes to fruition, it will surely be a powerful story not to be missed. Other rumors currently circulating suggest that Mulholland may also have some horror films in early development. If his directorial debut is any indication of his talent, these projects will be ones to look out for in the future.

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