Updated: Nov 15, 2019
Directed By: J.D. Dillard, Written By: J.D.Dillard, Alex Hyner & Alex Theurer, Starring: Kiersey Clemons, Emory Cohen, Hannah Mangan Lawrence, Benedict Samuel.
Let’s be honest, the world is a shitty place right now. Over the Pond, in the good old USofA, they have a president that is so appalling on every level that he achieves the impossible task of making you miss George W Bush. Back here in England, we teeter on the edge of financial suicide as we anticipate being dragged out of Europe. This country has never been so divided and people are just awful to one another. Personally, being washed up, alone on a beautiful, tropical island, away from all the politics and hatred sounds like a little slice of heaven right now. Or does it? Because knowing my luck, I would definitely end up washed ashore on the island from Sweetheart…
Sweetheart, in case you’re unaware is a 2019 offering from the folks at Blumhouse. In fact, it’s just one of thirteen films that Blumhouse has or still have left to release this year. Other titles being Ma (which Mark recently reviewed), the upcoming Black Christmas remake and Happy Death Day 2U are just a few examples.
I have to admit that I generally enjoy most of their output. Sure there’s a vast quantity, but there is also plenty of quality too. Sweetheart is one such example. I hadn’t really heard of it before viewing so I didn’t know what I was in for. The best way I can describe the movie, if drawing on lazy comparisons, would be Castaway (the Tom Hanks movie, where he befriends a basketball) crossed with Predator meets Creature from the Black Lagoon.
First, let me give you the 411.
The film begins with Jenn (brilliantly played by Kiersey Clemons) washing ashore on a desert island. You don’t know why at this point. It’s not revealed until later on in the movie. She isn’t alone as her friend Brad has washed up as well. Unfortunately for Brad, he isn’t in good shape, having been seriously wounded on some Coral. Brad swiftly succumbs to his wound, leaving Jenn very much alone on the island.
Bear Grylls mode kicks in and Jenn sets about surviving, building a shelter, and teaching herself to fish. She doesn’t drink her own piss from a snakeskin though. It’s never really explained how Jenn is so good at this stuff but she seems pretty adept at fending for herself.
It doesn’t take Jenn long to discover that she may be in more trouble than she first thought when things start going ‘GRR’ in the night. Jenn first notices something is amiss when she discovers the recently buried body of Brad has been dug up and taken. Later while out fishing, she spots a mysterious hole in the ocean floor. It isn’t long before the post sundown visitations begin. They introduce the intruder in brief, fleeting glances but it’s big, and it’s vicious. From then on, Jenn’s struggle for survival is intensified as she battles to find a way off of the island before she makes the menu of whatever’s lurking offshore.
Things look up when she spots a life raft bobbing in the water. After swimming out to investigate, Jenn discovers her boyfriend Lucas (Emory Cohen) and friend Mia (Hannah Mangan Lawrence) have survived the incident that led Jenn to become a castaway. It turns out that their boat went down in a storm. Jenn tries to convince them that a monster is prowling the beach and that they need to use the raft to escape. Lucas and Mia don’t believe her and think the island is their best chance of survival. It turns out that Jenn has a less than perfect relationship with the truth.
Well, they should have believed her on this occasion as it’s not long before Lucas and Mia become a monster snack, leaving Jenn alone, once again to contend with the creature.
It’s towards the end that we get our first good look at the creature and it resembles the love child of Gill Man and the Cloverfield monster. Leaving the creature in the shadows for most of the film works in building the tension and letting your imagination do some legwork. Once revealed though, the monster is actually pretty cool and didn’t harm the film by looking daft as is sometimes the case.
Sweetheart is a great little movie. At 82 minutes long, there is no time offered to grow bored. The film hits the ground running and drags you along for the ride and I loved it. Sometimes it's great to stumble across a film that you know nothing about, as there are no preconceived expectations to be met.
The cast all do a fine job although it’s Kiersey Clemons that carries the film for the majority of its runtime and she does so admirably, giving you a character that you genuinely root for. The monster effects are great too, although keeping it hidden for so much of the film means that the sound effects team are the real unsung heroes of the piece.
I can’t recommend this film enough. If you’re looking for a tight, solid movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat for an hour and a half, then check out Sweatheart. Long may Blumhouse continue to churn out product of this quality.