My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To.

Damn. I didn’t know what to expect when I went into this movie. Shot in a restrictive aspect ratio, you instantly feel the claustrophobia experienced by the family the movie orbits. There’s no spoilers here. Thomas is a vampire being cared for by his sister and brother, Jessie and Dwight. The story is a slow burn, but it tenders a glimpse into the practicalities of having to feed someone whose diet consists on blood alone. Picking up hobos to drain them is a nightly occurrence, and the only form of entertainment is via karaoke, or playing guess that tune on a organ, a musical instrument faithful to the horror genre. The banality of their existence, combined with a lack of visible fangs, leaves you wondering whether Thomas actuality is a vampire, or just a victim himself, trapped and forced to feed from the throats of vagrants by a sister suffering with Munchhausen.

In attempt to connect with someone outside their sick little family unit, Dwight turns to a sex worker and dreams of running away. But Jessie, the matriarch, keeps pulling him back to the life they’ve become accustomed to. And while you feel for each sibling, and understand their motives and aspirations, it’s Thomas that truly steals your heart. Sheltered from life outside his home, he covets the simple things like school and friends. And in a sweet, but creepy scene, we witness Thomas clumsily engaging with a kid his age. Actor Owen Campbell pulls off that Boo Radley come Sheldon Cooper with aplomb. In one moment you want to hug him, and in the next, run a mile. The tension builds slowly. Maybe too slow for some. But the ending, should you make it that far, will pierce your heart like a wooden stake.

Published by craigwallwork

Craig Wallwork is the author of the novels, Bad People, Labyrinth of the Dolls, The Sound of Loneliness, To Die Upon a Kiss, and the short story collections, Quintessence of Dust, and Gory Hole. His short stories have been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize and feature in many anthologies and magazines both in the U.K. and U.S. He currently lives in West Yorkshire.

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