Fame has been one of the most talked about topics in fiction. Many people want to be famous, there are countless stories where the character’s sole motivation is that of becoming well known, be it inside a small circle of people or around the world. Recognition and validation, are things we all are looking for in our lives all the time. So, it makes sense that narratives go often to that well, as it makes for some truly relatable stories.
However, there came a turning point, near the seventies and beyond, when fame was seen as an illusion, something that was desired, but it was anything but what people had in their minds. Fame was a construct that only served a few and destroyed many. Stories then started to go in the direction of people wanting to be famous, but not really. You don’t want to be famous, because being famous sucks. Nowadays, with the rise of social media, it seems that Sunset Boulevard was always in the right.
So, here comes Blumhouse, one of the most successful and prolific studios in Hollywood right now. They produced small horror films at a low budget, and they just throw them out there to see what sticks. Sometimes they land a huge success like The Purge, which ended up becoming a franchise, or Get Out, which became a box office success, and even got an Oscar win. Blumhouse output is not consistent, but they always aim for their movies to be entertaining.
Torn Hearts is the latest production from Blumhouse. The film is directed by Brea Grant and stars Katey Sagal, Alexxis Lemire, and Abby Quinn. The movie tells the story of Torn Hearts, a country music duo that is trying to find their next big opportunity for fame and glory. When the chance to meet one of their idols comes along, the girls take it without thinking. However, the saying “Never meet your heroes” exists for a reason.
Torn Hearts as a film doesn’t really match the production values of something like Get Out, The Purger, Happy Death Day, or any of the other big Blumhouse films. From the moment you start watching, it is clear that this is a movie which will find its home at a streaming service or at Video On Demand. And those are good places for it, because audiences are in for a surprise once they click play. Torn Hearts isn’t a great movie, but it is a very good one, one of the best from the genre that has come out this year.
This is a sort of slasher thriller, a sort of slow descent into madness, shot mostly inside on location, and delivering amazing performances from all three actresses. But more than anything, Torn Hearts is entertaining. The movie is just about 90 minutes long, and because of it, it never overstays its welcome, in fact, the movie passes like a breeze, thanks to excellent pacing and snappy storytelling.
This is a classic tale of trauma, jealousy, and betrayal, all the things that make all those music industry scandals, so juicy. The movie itself acknowledges that this is the kind of stuff people love to consume, this is the kind of stories people love to follow, this is what makes some people famous, so why not give it to them. The movie is meta in that sort of way but it never goes too much in that direction as to become pretentious or anything like that.
There are some very interesting discussions here about the nature of fame, and how we interact with others when we see other people getting what we think is ours. Who is worthy of fame and recognition? Do we need that kind of feeling to be able to function? Can two people really be equals in a relationship? All these themes and subjects are nothing new, but they still manage to be captivating, and the movie makes good use of them to fuel the motivations and actions of the characters.
The strongest element in the movie are the performances. Katey Sagal, delivers a fantastic nuanced performance that slowly turns into one full of madness and the actress seems to be having a great time doing it. Sagal, like her character in the film, is a living legend. Her presence on the screen is unmatched, and she brings the perfect dose of creepiness that is necessary for the movie to feel dangerous.
Alexxis Lemire, does amazingly well as the beautiful and innocent looking Leigh. Lemire has already proven herself in other projects, like in the solid The Half of It, but here, the transition of her character from one place to another is just fantastic. The same can be said for Quinn, who brings a lot of attitude, and character that goes exactly where you don’t think she will go. The performances are great, and they elevate the material by quite a lot.
Towards the end, the movie simply goes back into pure slasher fest material, but the road to that climax is quite good. Torn Hearts might not be innovative, or even amazing, but it is a solid effort that will entertain a lot of people when they discover it.
Torn Hearts is a Blumhouse and Epix production distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment.