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Drabby Stabs: Sickle's take on "My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To"

My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To follows and older brother and sister who care for their chronically and mysteriously ill younger brother by killing and feeding human victims to him.

[This movie was viewed via Shudder.]

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My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To Review

With a title like an early 2000s Fall Out Boy single, you know you're getting into some heavy and dramatic indie horror. And this film certainly lives up to such expectations. It is awkward, drab, dark, somber, and occasionally violent. It is as patient as it is engrossing, dependent almost entirely on its three leads and the downtrodden, blood-soaked lives fate has forced them into. In order to dive further into my thoughts, I am going to further reveal the ailment befallen the younger sibling, so a spoiler warning is in effect for that reason (but for those that have watched the trailer, it is generally clear what the ailment is).


It is hard to impress me with a vampire tale these days. It usually takes a unique perspective that either deviates from the norm or at the very least avoids the romantic parallelism that has pervaded the subgenre of late. And there have still been plenty of vampire movies with said pickiness in mind that have still entertained me at the very least. Jakob's Wife, Boys from County Hell, and The Shed come to mind. They weren't particularly impressive, but their pacing and creative liberties were enjoyable to explore. But MHCBUYTIT chose to go a more subtle route, and for what it was trying to achieve it was better for it.

The two older siblings in our tale are trying to keep their younger brother alive by feeding him the destitute of their surrounding town. Requiring blood on the regular, the boy appears weak for most of the film. More like a cancer patient than the empowered vampires we are used to seeing. It was interesting to see this angle, because we often hear it referred to as a disease, but outside of sunlight we rarely see the ailment seen as a debilitating sickness. Here, we see the disease as a metaphor for struggling families trying everything they can to care for one another, and as a parallel to family members and friends that use compromising situations as a cage to keep those they love close.

The true villain of this story isn't the vampire and it isn't some hero/antagonist-like detective that is trying to catch the family in the act. The villain is within the home, a member of the family that will do anything to imprison everyone to keep the family together. This dynamic is where all of the drama and tension originates. It makes it for a much more grounded film outside of the carnage and vampiric references. Everyone is deeply explored in their struggles and insecurities about their situation and you genuinely feel for the desperate intentions of each family member.

It's a sad, plodding film, but one that is executed very well because of its fantastic cast. The three leads carry the film so well with their incredible performances. Each actor feels as if they've embodied the role to the point that you feel like you're watching a documentary on a murderous family that wants to be anything but that. These dark and dramatic dynamics far exceed the action itself. There is limited elements of "pure horror" here, but the piece is solely a horror drama that is worth exploration for the patient viewer.

Horror Rating System

Horror Qualifier: 7/10

Horror Quality: 5/10

Film Quality: 7/10

#myheartcantbeatunlessyoutellitto #theshed #jakobswife #boysfromcountyhell

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