My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To: Psychological horror that viewers love or hate

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“My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To”, released on July 28, 2020, is a psychological thriller from Columbian-American director, Jonathan Cuartas. (Photo by Sasha Kaiser)

Sasha Kaiser, Staff Writer

My heart can’t beat unless you tell it to is a slow-burn Indie horror film that doubles as a family drama. Directed by Jonathan Cuartas and starring Patrick Fugit, Owen Campbell, and Ingrid Sophie Schram, the movie follows two siblings caring for their younger brother who has a strange, unexplained illness. It’s a psychological horror that viewers seem to either love or hate; I for one, love it.

The movie starts with a quick kill within the first five minutes, letting viewers know the horror that the audience will endure. The audience learns that a young boy, Thomas, is being taken care of by his older siblings, Dwight and Jessie, as he is troubled by an unknown illness. Although what he’s suffering from is never named, the viewer knows he can’t be out during the daytime, and he has to consume human blood in order to survive. How this came to be is unknown, but I think some things are better left that way. His siblings provide him with blood daily, killing off people whom society might see as forgettable in order to get what they need. However, Jessie seems far more comfortable with it than Dwight, who suggests taking Thomas to the doctor. His suggestion is quickly shut down, though, as Jessie insists that he find a new victim. From this moment on, things escalate as Thomas begins to feel lonely, and Dwight begins to clearly doubt if he should really be doing what he’s doing.

The movie itself is a brilliant allegory for how far we are willing to go for those we love. Although we hopefully don’t go as far as to kill people for them, the emotional toll we often take upon ourselves to care for other people can be severe. Although I won’t spoil the ending, it is really quite fitting for the movie, as it shows how important it is to let go of things even when it hurts us.

Although this film might not be particularly terrifying or gory, I still find it very captivating. All of the actors display an incredible picture, but the performance that truly stands out is Owen Campbell, who portrays the younger brother, Thomas. He creates a sympathetic character who you can really feel for. Thomas’ character has a sense of childlike innocence to him, which makes you feel sympathetic towards him, understanding what’s happening isn’t his fault, but something completely out of his control. 

One complaint people have about this movie is that it’s very quiet and somber. In other words, not super exciting. In my opinion, though, I love the thrill of watching terrifying movies, but I think it’s important to have horror movies that are the opposite, movies that are just gloomy and thoughtful. Also, the fact that his siblings never take him to the hospital irks some people. For me, it definitely is a bothering plot point, but one I can look over for the most part. One plot point, however, that I can’t seem to get over is how they figured out that Thomas needed to drink human blood to live. We know he can’t be out in the daytime since he’ll burn up, but who offered him human blood as a remedy in the first place?

All in all, despite a somewhat confusing plot point, the movie does really well in exploring the relationships between its characters. It’s very bleak, and it’s very blunt. It might not be for everyone, but even if you’re not into horror, I definitely think it’s something worth checking out.

 I give it four paws out of five.