Hearttrhob is a recent movie that’s kind of near the border of horror and horror-ish. It was recommended to us by a listener to the podcast. That’s right, you too can probably get us to watch a horror movie you like just by reaching out (we don’t have a lot going on). What did we think of this pseudo-romantic psychological almost horror-ish movie? Well, just check out the trailer below and then continue on down for our review. Unless you’re worried about spoilers. We do those.
Reviewed by: Jack
Sam (Aubrey Peeples) and Max (Keir Gilcrest) are both recent high school graduates. Sam is a popular and fun girl that Max, the lonely but smart outcast, perceives to be a vapid “slut” -- his words that he scrawls into his journal, not mine. After a fairly stilted conversation on a beach, Max starts to fall for Sam, and the two start dating.
One of Sam’s jock exes tries to mess with Max by cryptically asking him if he’s made her hiccup. His meaning is revealed soon, after Sam hiccups upon orgasm after some hand-stuff in a pool. Oh no!, says Max, this young, attractive woman has a sexual history (even though it already seemed like he knew that).
Well it turns out that Max is a jealous lunatic, and quickly turns the page in to full-on psychopath. He murders Sam’s ex, and then another guy kind of just because. As he becomes more and more controlling (and murdering more and more people - clear giveaway), people start warning Sam about him. Eventually, Sam breaks up with him so that he can jet off to MIT unimpeded by their relationship.
Eventually, Max calls Sam and tells her that he has figured things out and she should come over for a homemade dinner. Does not go well. While things seem mildly normal at first, Sam soon learns that Max has tied hi mom up and trapped her in an upstairs room. Though he didn’t lock the door, so that’s a thing.
Max’s mom jumps out a window to safety, and when Sam refuses to run away with Max, he stabs himself right in the goddamned chest. Turns out he had already put his journal in the mail to Sam, who gets the thing, and then promptly romanticizes the whole relationship and looks fondly back upon it.
What the Movie Does Right
The tone of this movie is consistent and great. It’s dark but not oppressive, it’s surreal and cerebral, and it just kind of makes you feel weird, while still being invested in the characters. Very well-handled. The characters are pretty great and believable too. It’s tempting to say that Sam shouldn’t or wouldn’t stay with Max throughout all of his horrible and controlling behavior, but unfortunately, controlling and grooming behavior leading women to have few resources available to escape that kind of situation is an all-too-common occurrence right here in the real world, so that rings terrifyingly true. The dialog is pretty good for the most part, but does feel kind of stilted and Wes-Anderson-y at times.
What the Movie Does Wrong
The dialog isn’t always great, as I mentioned above. The plot is also a little bit predictable, which might not be all that bad of a thing. There’s also a very regrettable use of CGI at some points in the film. On the whole, it doesn’t do a whole lot acutally wrong.
Story: 6 - Pretty basic story, but not screwing anything up, and the post-hoc romanticization of the relationship is pretty chilling.
World-Building / Immersion: 8 - I was just goddamned invested in this thing from start to finish. It’s really well-paced.
Scare-Factor: 3 - There’s a little bit of an attempt at some jump scares and some dark-house scares, but this movie is more disturbing than scary.
Effects (or Judicious Lack Thereof): 5 - Right down the middle.
Overall: 7 - I was not expecting to have enjoyed this movie as much as I did. Sure, it might not be out and out horror, but it’s a genre film that’s worth a watch.