Directed by Bob Keen
Produced by Kate Harrison, Lewin Webb
Written by Vlady Piloysh, Warren P. Sonoda
Director of Photograpy David Mitchell
Music by Eric Cadesky, Nick Dyer
Cast: Robert Englund, Meredith Henderson, Nathan Stephenson, James Binkley

2006/92 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 5.1
1.78:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1

Review from the Anchor Bay Entertainment DVD

When I review a DVD, I put a great deal of effort into writing a coherent, yet concise synopsis of the film so that the reader has a good idea of what the film is about. I want to give a good idea of the story, characters, and genre of the film. However, I work very hard to not give away any plot twists or detail too much of the film's action. But what about movies which go in the opposite direction? What about movies which have very little story? Then how am I supposed to write a synopsis. The newly released HEARTSTOPPER presented such a challenge.

As HEARTSTOPPER opens, we witness two events which are occurring simultaneously. Serial killer Chambers (James Binkley) is being executed in the electric chair for his crimes. During a pre-execution meeting with a priest, we get the sense that there is something unusual about Chambers. Sheriff Berger (Robert Englund), the man who caught Chambers, is present to witness the execution. The procedure takes longer than usual, but after hitting Chambers with many, many volts of electricity, he finally dies. Meanwhile, teenager Sara (Meredith Henderson) is standing on a highway contemplating suicide. Through flashbacks, we see that she has been labeled a "slut" by her classmates. Sara sits in the middle of the road and is struck by the ambulance carrying Chambers' body. She is placed in the ambulance and taken to the hospital. While lying next to Chambers corpse, part of a tattoo on his arm leaps from his body to hers.

Upon arriving at the hospital, Sara is treated for her injuries, which include a broken leg, and placed in a room with Walter (Nathan Stephenson), a stabbing victim who knows Sara from school. At this same time, an autopsy is being performed on Chambers, who suddenly arises and rips the heart from the attending physician. This act restores Chambers, who had been mangled and burned, to his pre-electrocution appearance. He then chains all of the doors in the hospital and begins slaughtering the staff. His goal is to find Sara as he needs her body as part of his resurrection plan.

If you are a horror fan worth their salt, as you read that description you probably thought, "That sounds like SHOCKER or THE HORROR SHOW." and you'd be right. And if you have seen the dark deserted corridors of the hospital (which is being shut down in two days a la the police station in ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13), then HALLOWEEN II would have probably come to mind. Yes, HEARTSTOPPER is reminiscent of both of those movies.

And that's where it's story ends. Although it would be justified, I'm not going to criticize HEARTSTOPPER for having a story and a look which mirrors other movies. No, the problem with this film is that once the premise has been established, no other story exists. Once the action (?!) moves to the hospital, Chambers comes back to life and begins to kill people and chase Sara. And that's it. We never learn how Chambers is resurrected. It's implied that there is some sort of demonic force at work, but the implication is subtle and really tells us nothing. We never learn if Chambers is a zombie, a ghost, or simply a former dead man who is now alive. We never learn why Chambers has chosen Sara or exactly why he needs her. It's clear that he needs her body to complete his plan, but the details are never revealed. We never learn the true impetus behind Sara's suicide attempt. Yes, we see the taunting classmates in the flashback, but are their accusations true? Is Sara a slut?

So, as a story failed to make it to the film (it must have been delayed by the storm in the movie), HEARTSTOPPER is simply a string of scenes in which we either watch Chambers kill people or watch Sara and Walter hide from Chambers. And trust me, neither is very exciting. This is the kind of film which uses any excuse to propel the action -- As Chamber is a serial killer, thus he likes to kill people, thus he kills everyone in the hospital to get to Sara, even though they weren't really stopping him from getting to Sara. HEARTSTOPPER is also the sort of low-budget horror film which clearly cuts corners. It's interesting how Chambers suddenly looks normal once he makes his first post-execution killing. Was this to illustrate that he was powerful or because it was cheaper and easier to have the actor perform without burn makeup?

Based on the press material for HEARTSTOPPER, I thought that the film might be old school fun. Well, if your old school didn't have any writers, then you may find it appealing. And if you want to see the film because of Robert Englund's involvement, be warned that his role is slightly above a cameo. For me, the only appealing part of HEARTSTOPPER was the mention of a Sony PSP...and for all that I know that was just a GameBoy Advance in a costume.

HEARTSTOPPER comes back to life on DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The only notable flaw to this transfer is that it's slightly dark at times and the unlit hospital corridors lack detail at times. Otherwise, the transfer looks pretty good. The image is sharp and clear, and there is little grain to be had. The colors look fine and the framing appears to be accurate. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides adequate audio. The dialogue is clear and free from distortion. The subwoofer effects are OK, but they are typically only evident when the thunder crashes. Surround sound effects are subtle, but the musical cues did fill the rear speakers.

The only extras on the HEARTSTOPPER DVD are an interview with Robert Englund (15 minutes) and an interview with director Bob Keen (13 minutes).





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Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2006. ©