REVIEW: ‘Heart Shot’ Needs Some More Heart

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Heart Shot - But Why Tho

Heart Shot is a Netflix Original short film directed by Marielle Woods, written by Woods and Lauren Ludwig, and starring Nia Sondaya as Sam and Elena Heuzé as Nikki. Sam and Nikki are a high school couple with the opportunity of a lifetime: Sam’s mom is going away for the weekend and they’ve got the house to themselves. But it’s not all easy strolling on lovers’ lane.

If you come into this short film with no conception of its premise, you’ll start out thinking it’s just a tale of teenage love and heartache. The two main characters clearly come from different lives, as illustrated pretty overtly in the opening two sequences. But you know they’re totally infatuated with one another, regardless of their respective fears or confidence in being seen together publicly. There are some cute little quicks between the two and it feels as awkward as teens in their first love are.

Unfortunately though, it also feels very forced. Both actors have their moments, especially when showing fear, where they’re doing so pretty powerfully. But when they’re just having casual conversation their lines feel like they’re being read off of cue cards. It’s stiff and feels somewhat amateurish. The fact that the characters are meant to be teens somewhat belies this issue, but it doesn’t fully compensate for the broken emersion.

Heart Shot isn’t just about teenage love though. It has a dark secret at its heart that erupts suddenly from the middle of the short to entirely change the tone and plot. It was so sudden as to be as anxiety-inducing as it was thrilling. On the one hand, it was certainly out of nowhere and offered a stark change in pace with some swift action. It’s a bit low-budget and so jarring that I couldn’t even tell if it was especially convincing, but it did capture my attention rapidly and leave me wondering what might happen next if the story continued on. But, on the other hand, it was so out of nowhere and so equally as hollow as the first half that I was more worried about what Sam’s mother was going to think when she got home than I was about whether Sam or Nikki were going to be okay. Their relationship felt as real as a short story can deliver, but it didn’t feel believable. The motivation felt genuine, with good writing and just enough emotion, but the stilted performances just took me out of it.

The camera work and editing feels like it got a bit too cute too. There is more than one instance where the perspective suddenly shifts to first person or uses a fading effect that could have been impactful perhaps one time, but felt overused in such a small amount of time. The first person was especially jarring.

Heart Shot has the making of a decent short with a solid twist and interesting premise in both the first and second half. It leaves me wanting more but not just in the good way. The acting is stiff at times and uses the same trick a few too many times. Which is a shame because I was pretty enamored with the central relationship and the potential the short film had.

Heart Shot is streaming now on Netflix.


Heart Shot
6.5/10

TL;DR

Heart Shot has the making of a decent short with a solid twist and interesting premise in both the first and second half. It leaves me wanting more but not just in the good way. The acting is stiff at times and uses the same trick a few too many times. Which is a shame because I was pretty enamored with the central relationship and the potential the short film had.