Sweetheart ★★★

Quick Review
Directed by J.D Dillard from a script by Dillard, Alex Theurer and Alex Hyner: Sweetheart takes control of Kiersey Clemons's handsome performance and director Dillard's gripping hold on the film's forbidding aura, despite feeling more like a safe exercise than a fully formed vision as part of the creature feature genre. First of all, as always, Kiersey Clemons gives a firm act and enunciates her role as clearly as possible, chewing the scenery during her one-woman screentime. The script and idea is a mash up of previously introduced ones, visibly Robinson Crusoe meets Creature from the Black Lagoon. Nameless girl washed up on a gorgeous island's shore, tries to escape and ends up meeting the Gill Man's steroid-infested mob boss, who tells her (by way of raging sea hormones and actions that turns "no" into "no, please don't eat me") that in order for her to escape she's to pay a debt, and that is to be his own underwater shrimp bride. Kind of crazy storytelling for sure but nope that's not what happen, not exactly. Gill Man's mob boss grabs another character and when he realized the body he's been carrying is a male, he comes back to miss Clemons and then she decapitates him. Such is the life of a lonely bipedal underwater creature. For real though, while the script is pretty simplistic and becomes tedious over time, I really like Dillard's handling of the movie's more subtle horror effects. The glimpses and silhouettes of the monster (efficaciously constructed using practical effects) as it stalks is brilliantly measured, and rightly so to be afraid of when it's both a predator of the sea and land. But our protagonist Jenn (played by Klemons) is smart and resourceful as a survivor, perhaps even too smart for horror movies like these. Which makes the climatic third act feels a bit at the expense of the monster's previously earned terrifying grandeur. Overall, Sweetheart doesn't demand nor offers much in the way of storytelling or technical design, it's briskly paced with a rootable lead and bloodlusted monster to hate with passion. Sweetheart's alright.

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