Written & Directed by: Kevin Sluder
Runtime: 12 minutes 24 seconds
Cast: Stacy Snyder, Joanna Sotomura, Matt Mercer, Blaine Vedros, Ron Morehouse, Melody Melendez
Heartless is a brand new short film from the award-winning L.A based Sunshine Boy Productions and is inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’. Heartless marks Kevin Sluder’s directorial debut, who is also one half of Sunshine Boy Productions team alongside his wife, Jennifer, who is an executive producer on this film.
I will try to avoid spoilers ahead as best I can because if you do intend to watch this when it’s released for public viewing you’ll thank me for it!
Selby (Stacy Snyder) is about to deliver a presentation at work but it’s clear something is weighing heavily on her mind. Before she even starts her presentation, three ‘classic’ businessmen (total asshats who belittle women and think they’re God’s gift) already make it clear they would have preferred Clare, Selby’s co-worker who she worked on the presentation with, to have been presenting. This is then followed by a demand for Selby to fetch some coffee before she starts. The look on Selby’s face says it all and if looks could kill all three of the men would be laid out on the meeting room table. One of the men then tells Selby it’s just a joke but then says she has to smile before the presentation can start. The smile she forces herself to wear is the point Selby snaps and we learn who Clare is and why she isn’t the one presenting.
Selby gives Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman a run for his money when she snaps, and it makes for bloody magnificent viewing. My jaw literally dropped during the flashback to the night before when we learn of Clare’s fate. Snyder absolutely nails her performance as she completely owns the screen and I found myself unable to take my eyes off her (those of a squeamish nature may find themselves looking away during one or two particular moments). Admittedly I haven’t seen any of Snyder’s previous work, but having seen her in this I will definitely be seeking some out.
I really couldn’t write this review and not praise Josh and Sierra Russell for their incredible blood and gore effects. Their work on this short is easily better than some feature-length films I’ve seen and it really elevates this short to a whole other level. I really didn’t expect this film to make me jump back in my chair in surprise during some of its big moments, but the makeup and effects are incredibly well detailed and executed that, for a moment, I fully believed someone just had their throat sliced open with a coffee mug.
The cast and crew as a whole have delivered a sleek and professional final product that could easily be mistaken as a scene from a bigger budget feature. Steve Moore’s score is incredibly fitting with the craziness that ensues too. The second the credits finished rolling I immediately started the film again and began to pick up some of the subtle and clever details I missed the first time round. Once again, Snyder’s performance was completely captivating
This is a solid debut from Sluder, who has managed to deliver a brutal and thrilling horror/dark-comedy that honestly surpassed my initial expectations. I would happily sit and watch a feature-length film exploring the days leading up to this presentation and Selby’s brewing outburst. As a short, I can’t fault any aspect of it. The whole thing is incredibly well executed, from the makeup to the editing, and Sulder’s superb writing and direction.
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