Heartstopper (2006)

Heartstopper (2006)

Each beat may be your last…

Mass murderer Jonathan Chambers is executed by the electric chair and his body taken to a local hospital for the autopsy. However the electricity didn’t kill him and he awakens in the hospital to begin looking for a new body to host his murderous soul, killing anyone who stands in his way.

 

I had reasonable hopes for Heartstopper. You can’t really go wrong with a serial killer who rips out people’s hearts and, given that it was rated 18 in the UK, I knew that those moments were going to be shown in all of their glory. Throw in genre legend Robert Englund to beef up the cast and set it in a hospital (full of places to play hide and seek with a serial killer) and you’re set. Well not quite. Heartstopper features a terribly un-scary killer, some lousy dialogue and as much sense as walking across a motorway at rush hour.

I’ll go on record in saying that a decent slasher film needs a decent killer. You need either a decent character (someone like Freddy Kruger who seemed quite complex and interesting in the first one before his ‘game show host’ persona took over in the sequels) ) or just an unstoppable monster who doesn’t say anything (Jason Vorhees destroying teenagers is the simplest form of slasher entertainment). Here we’re given a combination of both and it doesn’t work. Chambers has got the mouth of a rambling priest and this is combined with a pretty huge, imposing frame but the two don’t go hand in hand. Most of his victims would probably drop down in boredom before he killed them because he prattles on and on. His preaching gets tiresome very quickly and you’ll be screaming at him to shut up and kill his victim to get it over with. The problem is that because he talks so much, you don’t get the same sense of fear and dread as you should do, say if he was just smashing down doors or breaking through windows. There’s no element of mystery or surprise to the character because we know too much about him.

It’s not the problem of the actor, James Binkley, as he seems to have a decent screen presence. It’s just a pity that the script has him saying things like “sometimes you have to do a lot of bad to get a little good” and turning him into some modern day prophet. As I said earlier, Robert Englund has a small role here. It’s nice to see him still getting work but I’m getting a little worried that he’s turning into the next Lance Henriksen and just pimping himself out to any frat boy with a video camera and bucket of blood. His role as the sheriff makes a nice change of pace from the usual villain he plays and it’s a shame he’s not around for too long (the UK DVD cover kind of spoils his demise). The two young lead roles don’t too badly either but again the script doesn’t have them doing anything interesting except for running and hiding around a lot.

If it has one major positive, Heartstopper is at least gory. Hearts get ripped out of bodies quite often and in one scene, a guy has his entire chest ripped open. You can hear the pressure of the blood spurting out of the bodies as the showers of blood soak whoever is standing by nearby! Unfortunately the scenes of ripped out hearts are then followed by the said victim staying alive for numerous moments whilst Chambers gloats and spouts off some lame Biblical-esque dialogue. The gore doesn’t manage to paper over the cracks with the script and this is the film’s underlying problem. It clearly has intentions on being more than your typical slasher and thus the killer is given some supernatural slant which means he can survive a little more damage than most other guys. The finale involves all manner of religious weirdness including a ‘holy tornado’ but the poor special effects means the whole thing comes off more laughable than anything else. When all is said and done, you are never fully told what the deal with Chambers is. Although if it meant he would be back on screen talking, I don’t think I want to know.

 

Heartstopper is a pretty dire slasher film which had a lot of promise (come on, a serial killer who rips out hearts with his bare hands has to be a win-win for a horror fan) but is completely ruined by the killer. Shut him the hell up, give him a bit more mystery and presence and maybe we’ve got a different film. The decent gore effects are so wasted in this film.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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