FilmFilm FestivalsMovie ReviewsTribeca Film Festival Movie Review – My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To

IMDb Summary - Two mysterious siblings find themselves at odds over care for their frail and sickly younger brother.
JulieGJuly 2, 202170/1007 min
Year of Release
Tribeca 2021
Studio
Dark Sky Films
Length
1 hr 30 min
Rating
R
Overall Score
Rating Summary
My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To is definitely not your typical horror and feels more like a thriller. In the end, based on the film's gruesome subject matter alone, it will most likely only appeal to the more hardened and conditioned horror fan.
PLEASE BE AWARE BEFORE YOU READ ON; WE ARE NOT SPOILER-FREE. THANK YOU.
My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To Tribeca Movie Review 

It’s an unusual title for an unusual story. My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To is not your typical vampire horror film. It’s an obscurely unique take on the vampire genre because there are no fangs, no superhuman feats are being performed and no crucifixes. There are, however, copious amounts of blood, but we’ll get to that.

Dwight and Jessie are brother and sister, and they’re burdened with the task of looking after their sick brother. But it’s not the flu or cancer (that we know of) or any other ailment you would know. Thomas is stricken with a rare disease that one could only refer to as vampirism. This affliction renders Thomas allergic to sunlight (burns his skin), and he can only survive on human blood. Therein lies the problem Dwight and Jessie face daily – how to get their brother the blood he needs to stay alive.

So you can probably guess where this movie is going, and if you said “to really dark places”, you’d be right. This film would suit audiences who aren’t squeamish at the sight of blood because there’s bucket loads of it. However, the most horrifying aspect of this film isn’t all the blood but the lives that Dwight and Jessie are forced to live for their sibling’s sake. It’s morbid and violent, but that’s what some of us consider good entertainment!

Shot in a colour palette that strips anything vibrant out of the shot; even the blood takes a darker tone. Most of the film is shot inside a dingy, decrepit house that looks completely abandoned from the outside. The decor is old – some of it looks like it’s dating back to the 1950s. Could this be a clue as to how old Thomas is?

My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To

There is an eeriness about this film that is had to pin down. It’s reminiscent of other horror films such as “Let the Right One In”. While not the same type of story, it brings a similar atmosphere and “feeling” to it – a feeling of constant dread. Thomas may be a character that is more in the background, but his presence is felt on every level.

The pacing varies, and for some, it may seem too slow in specific scenes, but these scenes build into the intense physical scenes that dominate the film’s final act. There are a few extremely intense moments between the characters, which pick up at odd intervals throughout the film. Some of these moments could be disturbing for some.

The actors do a fine job portraying a family pushed to the edge; Dwight is portrayed by Patrick Fugit (Gone Girl). Ingrid Sophie Schram plays his controlling and overbearing sister Jessie. Their sickly sibling Thomas is portrayed by Owen Campbell with such conviction that you almost pity his situation.

My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To is definitely not your typical horror. In fact, apart from all the blood-letting, it could easily be classified as a thriller. For that reason alone, this film will most likely only appeal to the more hardened and conditioned horror fan used to intermittent pacing and scenes of extreme violence.

Reviewed for Keithlovesmovies by Julie

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JulieG

Freelance entertainment writer and reviewer. Visit my blog on https://thebrokenquill.com.

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