Reality television has always made me a little uncomfortable. I just can’t help but feel that the audience is being exposed to happenings that aren’t supposed to have eyes or ears on them. Intimate conversations and moments of sexuality that should be kept private are shown to a national television audience. It’s in this area of discomfort that Lonely Hearts brings the horror, but it’s a horror of a different kind...
Written/directed by Sam Mason Bell and Jessica Hunt, Lonely Hearts revolves around Danny (Martin W. Payne), Carol (Sue Dawes), Freddy (Chris Mills), Claire (Alice Mulholland) and Kirsty (Tyne Stewart), all people searching for love who have been picked to be on the reality show “Lonely Hearts”. They arrive at a secluded location with tents and cameras and are greeted by Patricia (Sophie Atkinson), who is the host of the show. Soon after, the interactions begin. However, something is a little off about this show. Not everyone is who they seem to be…
There’s a sense of dread hanging over Lonely Hearts from the very beginning. We know something bad is going to go down. We don’t know when or how, but the film makes you wait quite a bit for it. Tension leading up to the horror is built well and we get to know the characters more than I had expected. All of the actors play their roles perfectly, with the standout being Mulholland. As her character becomes uncomfortable with her own behavior, she plays out the change very believably. She shares the discomfort of what has gone on with the audience and becomes sympathetic.
Now, erotic horror is not my bag, but I feel that I can’t knock a movie for being what it’s intended to be. The sex scenes are quite raw and there is a lot of nudity. Do I feel that this movie could have been just as effective with a lot of that trimmed down or even done a bit more tastefully? Yes, of course, but that’s just my opinion. The fact is that the movie is in the sub-genre that it’s in and it delivers what is expected. Plus, the film is meant to reflect the frankness of reality television and the sex and nudity does inform the story and characters.
I have to compliment the music, as it itself is well done, but there were times when I felt as if it were intruding. There were a few scenes where I found myself unable to hear what the characters were saying over the music. For a film that relies so much on dialogue to hold the audience over until the horror begins, that’s frustrating.
Another issue with Lonely Hearts is that once the horror finally comes around, it doesn’t stick around for long enough. The film makes us wait so long for the ugliness to begin and then, once it finally happens, the film ends just a few moments later. Granted, what happens is quite awful, but it’s just so short. Perhaps that is the point in a film that is all about frankness, though.
Overall, Lonely Hearts is a solid film. The dialogue is written like dialogue that would be on a reality show and the actors embody their characters as if they are those participants. The film definitely has disturbing moments and the tension is well done, but comes up just short on delivering what it’s all building up to. The music is also well done, but is a bit intrusive at times. As an erotic horror film, it delivers on the erotic part, even if much of it isn’t necessary.
Don’t expect much in the way of terror, but Lonely Hearts is still worth a look.
Lonely Hearts drops on Blu-ray/DVD on September 17th from DarkSide Releasing.
By Billy Smith