Short Film Review: HEARTLESS

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From the team who created the thrilling noir short Play Violet for Me, while also executive producing the horror hit short film of last year Feeding Time, comes their newest installment: a modern day Tell-Tale Heart that is as ruthless as it is gruesome. Written and directed by Kevin Sluder, HEARTLESS depicts Shelby (Stacy Snyder), the undermined associate attempting to complete her corporate presentation, all while bearing a hideous secret that’s dying to come out. The rude and intimidating executive big wigs partaking in the presentation (Matt Mercer, Blaine Vedros, and Ron Morehouse) can’t fathom what’s about to happen next, as this grisly tale unfolds through carnage and bits of blueberry muffin. 

I’m a sucker for anything written by Edgar Allan Poe, and the story of HEARTLESS provides an excellent contemporary twist on this gothic classic. The Tell-Tale Heart supplies its audience with the disturbing intelligence of a madman, and his overpowering guilt that is all at once self-reproaching and boastful towards his actions. The same notions are applied here, while also incorporating elements of black comedy, and a female lead who possesses a new found psychotic confidence over her male superiors. These delightful additions make for a great original story, with the lead becoming a more sinister, yet empowering figure in her situation. 

With a great cast and crew, anything is possible, and this short is definitely firing on all cylinders in each department. I just about recognized everyone’s creative fingerprint, from the amazing and never disappointing effects by Josh and Sierra Russell, to Matt Mercer’s skillful editing, down to the intensely identifiable music by Steve Moore. Every individual involved shows their expertise through their professional approach and dedication towards their craft. And having seen Sluder’s written work before, I can say, for his directorial debut, this short delivers and demonstrates great independent filmmaking, with just the right amount of blood, gore, and body parts to please its viewers. 

To its core, HEARTLESS is professional, well-made, and is a gruesome good time. It showcases great acting through a veteran cast, seasoned with skilled crew members that bring this short together as a whole. This original adaptation will not disappoint, and will entertain any fans of the genre who enjoy some good (and gory) twists and turns. 

Abigail Braman

HEARTLESS will be making it's World Premiere at the Oxford Film Festival on Friday, February 9th.

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