Friday, May 20, 2011

Heartless (2009)

Fear 3/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 3/5
Creepiness 2/5

Heartless is a thought provoking yet absolutely disjointed piece of work. It starts off by being dark and sinister but ultimately (and awkwardly) it ends up being redeeming without any regard for the actions of the main character. Read on.

The beginning of our story finds us being introduced to a young twenty something, an aspiring photographer who's birthmark is something that hinders him from being self-confident and having the types of relationships he's always wanted. Namely, that of a trusted and look-past-his -face true love. You see, he has a large birthmark on the right side of his face which looks much like a heart and covers the vast majority of it. Aside from his family who's accepted him, he longs for the relationship of a woman that will set him free. On top of that, he has to contend with the rising violence in his London suburb.

The perpetrators are kids who are running wild in the streets. Killing people at random and setting fires to buildings, terrorizing the neighborhood and making it unsafe to go out at night. Our aspiring photographer catches glimpses of these roving groups of sweatshirt hooded teens but instead of thuggish kids, he sees them taking the form of demons. And one day, as he visits the grave site of his father he lost a couple years prior with his mother, he's attacked by such a group, his mother falling victim. This turns his world upside down and he contemplates if he should go on living.

Just before he's quite literally ready to do himself in, he visits with a strange Lucifer-like man who tells him he has the cure for what ails him. He tells him that he'll take away his birthmark and that he'll live the life he's always wanted if he does one thing for him and one thing only: spray graffiti on walls to add to the chaos that's already enveloped the city. It's definitely something that's not as consequential as killing someone. He agrees and he's born again as a new man with a new face.

So with a new lease on life he asks a girl out that he's secretly infatuated with. They begin a hot romance but it's not too long thereafter when the piper knocks on his front door to make him fulfill his end of the bargain. But it's not what was originally intentioned. His deal is altered and he must go on a killing spree to maintain his looks and the love he's now built. He does so and in doing so, he becomes a shell of his former self.

As we head into our final act, things take a turn for the worse as we find that all is not what it seems. Not only with his new found relationship but also with his family. Furthermore, perceptions change and we begin to question did all of this really happen to the birth marked young man? Did he really make a deal with the devil or did people actually begin to accept him for who he was?

For me, the problem lied both within the dialogue and resolution. With the dialogue, it was oftentimes clunky and it never really painted a picture of someone in true peril or strife. So when our young man makes his deal, you never really feel like he did so out of sincere desperation. And the love scenes between him and his new found gal pal was Anakin and Padme in the fields of Naboo awkward. As for the ending, without giving too much away, I believe it should have ended on a much more sour note and not been quite as redemptive.

Regardless, the film is a lot more involving than your typical horror fare. It's definitely worth a watch. For anyone who's seen it, what did you think?

You can watch the film via Netflix streaming:

Cortez the Killer


Geof said...

Sounds like a new age Faust. But in this case, innocent graffiti allows the main character to get a taste of the good life and then has that carrot dangled above him to commit worse sins so he can continue to enjoy that lifestyle. That's much more plausible than when a character signs up for instant damnation in these types of tales.

Planet of Terror said...

Geof, it kind of is actually. I get that instant damnation isn't something people would willingly sign-up for if they knew what was going to happen. My issue was the happy ending. I felt like there was really no consequences to his actions, regardless if they were real or not. I don't mean to sound like a negative Nancy, but I was hoping for a more downer ending. I think it would have struck a much more emotional cord with me (and overall, would have made for a much better film).