Reality TV is, unfortunately, big business. Especially shows like The Bachelor or Love Island. And, if you’re like me you’ve been forced to sit through one and wished somebody would take a machete to the entire cast. Well, the writing/directing team of Jessica Hunt (The Truth Will Out) and Sam Mason-Bell (Millennial Killer, Monstrous Disunion) have a film for you, Lonely Hearts.
Opening with excerpts from audition tapes mixed with the character’s arrival on location, Lonely Hearts introduces us to the show’s cast. There’s the perky and cheerful host Patricia (Sophie Atkinson). There are two older contestants, a man of the cloth Danny (Martin W. Payne, Pandamonium) and widow Carol (Sue Dawes). There are also three younger ones Kirsty (Tyne Stewart), Freddy (Chris Mills, Maniacal) and Claire (Alice Mulholland). The odd mix and odd number of contestants is the first hint that things aren’t what they seem.
By day they’re pitted against each other in challenges. By night they’re plied with alcohol and encouraged to hook up. Something the cameras in the tents gladly record. But when one of the contestants decides to leave things take a dark turn.
With a great tag line like “Date.Mate.Eviscerate” and a poster featuring a torn out heart you would expect Lonely Hearts to be the horror film it’s billed as. But, it’s actually more of an exploitation film for most of its length. Like Aquaslash the film is pretty much all build up to a final nasty set piece. The big difference is Lonely Hearts is a much better film.
We get plenty of nudity and sex from the youngsters and a sweet bit of romance from Danny and Carol. Lonely Hearts intent is obvious even in the challenges which involve things like skinny dipping. And, somewhat surprisingly, the nudity is provided by both male and female cast members. Which may also tip you to just where the plot is heading.
That adds tension to the mix. But it’s not until about the hour mark that anything overt happens. And the hammer doesn’t really drop until the last fifteen minutes. Now those that are expecting full-on horror may be disappointed. But I found Lonely Hearts to have a well enough done mix of character development and bare skin to keep me interested.
Whether that set up appeals to you or not will depend on your tastes of course. But I will say that by the end Lonely Hearts had me wanting to take a shower. And I’d taken one before I sat down to watch it.