★★★ out of ★★★★★
Directed By Johnathan Curatas
My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To is the story of three siblings, Dwight (Patrick Fugit), sister Jesse (Ingrid Sophie Shram) and younger brother Thomas (Owen Campbell) who live together in a drab, parentless existence. The two older siblings are at odds about how to care for their sickly brother who has a mysterious illness that manifests as bloodlust. Dwight is beginning to tire of spending his nights being the provider of bodies while Jesse, who works at a diner at a waitress, thinks that no sacrifice is too great if it keeps her brother safe. What unfolds is a take on the vampire film that we really haven’t seen before but that still delivers blood and mayhem.
I think My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To (that title just does not roll off the tongue) is more successful as a metaphor for how hopeless it must feel to have a family member who is struggling with addiction than a vampire film, but it certainly fits into the genre.
However, I like my vampires a bit more over the top. Give me the 80’s hair metal glam of The Lost Boys or the sexy ennui of Only Lovers Left Alive; this film was like the shoegazing, trucker hat wearing little brother of those films so I just didn’t connect with it. It still earns three stars for the performances and atmosphere- it truly draws you in a gives you an emotional stake in this family’s plight- I just like my vamps glammed up.
My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To has been making the rounds at the festivals including Nightstream (where I saw it) and most recently Panic Fest. The trailer just dropped online and it will be available to stream June 25, 2021.