M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved starting with the year I began reviewing the genre officially October 1, 2010 through October 1, 2011. I have posted my best of lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around a bit. I’ve even added a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!

How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st 2010 and September 30, 2011 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number, 31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on November 19, 2010. Available On Demand, digital download, DVD/BluRay!

#19 – HEARTLESS (2010)

Directed by Philip Ridley
Written by Philip Ridley
Starring Jim Sturgess, Clemence Poesy, Luke Treadaway, Timothy Spall, Joseph Mawle, & Eddie Marsan

If you’re in the mood for a gothic romance filled to the brim with horrific elements, you should seek out a little film quietly released toward the end of 2010 called HEARTLESS.

HEARTLESS tells the tale of lonely dreamer named Morgan (played by ACROSS THE UNIVERSE’s Jim Sturgess) who is scarred with a heart-shaped birthmark on the left side of his face. Morgan spends most of his time glooming around trying to steal glances at the models he sees at his job as a camera assistant. Morgan dreams of living a normal life and an encounter with one model in particular (the nummy-licious Tia played by Clemence IN BRUGES Poesy) is the object of Morgan’s desire. To have a normal life, Morgan would give anything. Even his own soul. What unfolds is one of the best Faustian stories I’ve seen on film.

HEARTLESS owes much to other horror films; HELLRAISER, JACOB’S LADDER, and even FIGHT CLUB come to mind as the most prominent influences here, as reality’s edges fray and Morgan is placed on a quest to save the life of a little girl in order to save his chances at normalcy. The film is a relentless descent into madness/deal with the devil story with stunning imagery, unconventional twists, and an exceptional cast.

Though I would give this film a huge recommendation to any horror fan, I do think that it is somewhat guilty of trying to stuff too much into one package. I loved the deal with the devil portion. Morgan making a deal with the evil Papa B (played to sleazy perfection by Joseph Mawle) to heal his face in order to get the girl is played out at an operatic level. I loved every moment of it. But where HEARTLESS falters is when Morgan is distracted from his love quest in order to save a young child. Morgan safeguarding this metaphor for good in child form seems to come out of the blue and a little too late in the film. I understand the “pure good vs dark evil with Morgan in the middle” symbolism writer/director Philip Ridley is going for, but it’s somewhat heavy handed and unnecessary in a film that already has an awesome plot of a man who makes a deal with the devil to find love.

The cast of HEARTLESS is superb. Sturgess is heart-wrenching as Morgan and hits every beat in this story that takes his character through the emotional wringer. Poesy is enchanting as his object of affection; she’s pure, gorgeous, and one can understand why Morgan is so smitten with her. Timothy Spall has a small but important role and offers some emotional heft as Morgan’s father. As I said above, Joseph Mawle plays the devil to greasy perfection, making his Papa B character look powerful and unearthly with nothing more than scar makeup. Finally, Eddie Marsan, a character actor you’ve seen in countless films, has a dinky role as the Weapons Man, who answers to Papa B and gives Morgan his demonic assignments after his wish his granted. The high quality of actors in HEARTLESS sets this film apart from your typical horror show.

HEARTLESS is not a perfect film. I think it has one or two ideas too many for its own good. But the gorgeous, yet horrific imagery, the fantastic slant on the Faustian deal, and phenomenal actors make this film a must-see despite its flaws.

THE 2010-2011 COUNTDOWN!

#22 – RUBBER
#27 – HUSK
#30 – LA HORDE

M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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