Friday, 19 October 2018

Heartless (2018) - Short Horror Film Review

Heartless is a 12 minute short horror film that is the directorial debut of Kevin Sluder who is one half of the award winning Sunshine Boy Productions. The short is based on Edgar Allan Poe's classic story The Tell-Tale Heart with the inspiration obvious, this also seemed to be inspired by American Psycho which a read of the press release after watching this corroborated.

Shelby (Stacy Snyder) is an overlooked associate who has gotten the chance to prove herself by giving an important corporate presentation. However it soon becomes apparent that the means by which she came to get this chance was not exactly innocent. Will she be able to hold herself together, or will the guilt of her actions ruin everything?

Thinking back over the past nine months there has been a hell of a lot of good horror shorts. When done well short films can be fantastic pieces of entertainment. I am glad to say that Heartless is yet another great short to add to that list. The inspirations are obvious and that does slightly impact on the story in that it is quite obvious what is going to happen, but the inspirations are so well implemented that my enjoyment wasn't tarnished. Of course there is the iconic sound of a beating heart that the guilt stricken Shelby keeps hearing, then there is also the entertaining role reversal with a female Patrick Bateman, Snyder giving a fantastically unhinged performance with her sanity constantly threatening to unravel at the edges. This is helped by a solid supporting cast who play their roles for comedic effect in a way that compliments the madness going on.

I liked how well paced this was, the way that the crime Shelby has committed is inserted throughout her presentation, how her view of reality and the actual goings on are blurred with a constant mix-up between what she sees and what everyone else is seeing. This is all helped in no small part by excellent blood effects and make-up effects, there is a large amount of gore here and it all looks great really adding a lot to the insane moments of brutality. Also I loved the music choices here, they are screaming metal/rock songs that at first I found really jarring as they seemed so out of place. Thinking about it though this felt purposeful, an audio version of the conflict between the turmoil going on in Shelby's head and the outward projection of herself she is trying to maintain to those around her.

Heartless is yet another great short horror that works due to a winning combination of good casting, editing, make-up, music and directing. The idea itself may be derivative but then that fact wasn't kept secret, and when it results in something this entertaining it can hardly be called much of a fault. Heartless had its UK premiere at the Mayhem Film Festival last Saturday.


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