Saturday, August 05, 2017

Heartthrob (2017)

DIRECTOR: Chris Sivertson

WRITER: Chris Sivertson


Aubrey Peeples
Keir Gilchrist
Peter Facinelli
Jimmy Bennett
Taylor Dearden
Ione Skye
Felicity Price
Tristan Decker


Henry is a shy and introverted teenager. He is suddenly overjoyed when he starts up an unexpected romance and relationship with the very popular Samantha during the summer after high school graduation. Little does Samantha realise that Henry builds up an unhealthy obsession that will quickly turn deadly if anyone gets in the way or tries to come between their new romance.

This isn't a crush, it's obsession. You are never not in my thoughts. Your scent carries across a room and paralyses me with longing. I don't want to hold your hand. Part of me wants to set you on fire and hold you while the flames consume the both of us, to eat your heart, so I know that only I possess it entirely." - Gwen Hayes. I realise that I have begun my last several Obsession based reviews trying to make an excuse as to why they have this guilty pleasure hold on me. This time around, I actually wanted to do something different and decided that the above quote suited this latest unhealthy descent into obsession.

Heartthrob is another Netflix Original. I've found that after watching my fair share of these movies, that they are either hit or miss when it comes to terms of quality. I do admire that Netflix is out there, and at least trying to provide us genre fans with lots of new content on a monthly basis. It's great to see that we have so many streaming website options available to us. It's also great to witness that a lot more indie horror filmmakers are getting the chance to create their visions and it being opened up to a much wider audience than just a limited release or straight to DVD.

With this latest movie, I jumped at the chance to watch it when I discovered that this was about an unhealthy obsession that turns very deadly. This is not some rare type of groundbreaking premise. Just in the last year alone, I think I've reviewed close to ten films that deal with this type of story, and they have all been less than stellar. It's not a sub-genre that offers up many new ways to shock or surprise. We've had some classics like Single White Female, Fatal Attraction, Fear, and The Hand That Rocks The Cradle. We've sadly had a lot more duds.

It's with great regret that I have to inform you that this latest obsession film find is another miss for me. It doesn't really add anything new to the sub-genre. This feels like a cross between Fear as it's told from an obsessive male's perspective and a bit like Swimfan in terms of that whole teenage sort of high-schooler vibe with the same kind of visual queues. I think at this point, we've seen it all, and it will take a look of creativity to give us something truly unique. These movies really do feel like they all have a predictable through-line. A beginning, a middle, and an end.

The movie begins with a sexual encounter, an obsession grows, and the villain ends up becoming crazy and will usually try and kill those closest to the victims, and the victims themselves. These stories never really switch things up. I think my only real case here is Berlin Syndrome which may be the exception to that rule, out of all the films in recent memory. That's a ten-to-ninety ratio. Heartthrob is sadly in the ninety percent. It's a story we've seen many times before and unfortunately, it's been done much better than this one.

Where Heartthrob gets a few points from me is the fact that the two lead characters actually had some chemistry here. I thought that while he played the shy, odd, social outcast. Her being the cool, pretty, popular girl in high school made for a unique bond that actually worked. Both Keir Gilchrist and Aubrey Peeples felt very authentic. When romantic, I believed it. When they fought with each other, it felt very real here. I am not sure what the pre-production process was like here, but they felt like friends. Not two actors who just met on a set.

Another element of the story that I enjoyed was the fact that Samantha wasn't some virgin or prude. Throughout the movie, we are aware that she is promiscuous. We are told several times that she does a particular thing when she climaxes. I liked that this girl enjoyed sex and wasn't some rules-abiding final girl. It felt like they broke some trope with her character. She feels like some of the girls I knew in high-school. These days, she'd be slut-shamed for being so comfortable in her own skin. I feel that both characters worked well off of each other.

Lastly, we come to the violence and suspense in Heartthrob. The story here feels very Lifetime like regarding violence onscreen. There is only a handful of violence, it's done in a way that makes it feel like it is edited for midday television. I thought that being on Netflix, we may see some gruesome stuff here but it didn't take many risks. The only thing that I think will shock audiences is the final scene between Samantha and Henry. It sort of throws out a death scene but not in the way that most of these films do. Depending on how much you connect to these characters, it may offer a younger audience somewhat of a gut-punch.



- It's implied that a girl is killed in a car crash.
- A teenage kid has his head is bashed in with a rock.
- A teenager is stabbed to death.
- A teenage boy shoots himself in the chest.

I've never been one to shy away about my guilty pleasure type of love for movies that deal with Jealousy and Obsession. I have reviewed my fair share of them on the blog. While none of the ones that I've reviewed to date have broken any new ground, I still watch them in hopes that I find that diamond in the rough. Sadly, Heartthrob was not meant to be, and with some great chemistry between our two lead characters, decent acting, and nice visual flourishes. It doesn't bring anything new to the table. A case of we have seen it all before.

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