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The Independent Critic

Fiore Leo, Leighsa Burgin, William Bloomfield, John Martellucci, Michael Capozzi
Christopher Di Nunzio
Edgar Allan Poe's "Tell-Tale Heart"
25 Mins.

 "Her Heart Still Beats" Review 
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 TRUE! -- nervous -- very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses -- not destroyed -- not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily -- how calmly I can tell you the whole story. - Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart"

When Ed's wife (Leighsa Burgin) comes home early from work today, Ed (Fiore Leo) becomes overtaken by a strange feeling when he looks into her eyes. Is there something wrong with her eye? Is there something wrong with his own psyche'? As he struggles more and more to understand these feelings, he must attempt to discern whether or not she is truly evil or he is, perhaps, insane.

A short film inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's classic "The Tell-Tale Heart," Her Heart Still Beats takes the atmosphere and purpose behind Poe's story and transplants it into a different time and setting. The story may seem like it is detouring, but if you're paying attention it really isn't.

Among many wise decisions made by writer/director Christopher Di Nunzio (Viva! Saint Agrippina!), perhaps none was more wise than his decision to maintain Poe's literary aesthetics even while ultimately changing the actual story. The tendency these days is to cater to gorehounds and contemporary horror fans by infusing a film with special effects, ultra-violence and buckets o'blood, but Di Nunzio very much has made a classic thriller in look and feel. There is violence, but Di Nunzio doesn't so much focus on it as he does weave it into the fabric of the story. The violence in Her Heart Still Beats is very much secondary to what's going on within the story and within these characters.

It helps Di Nunzio immensely, of course, to have eerie yet insightful leading performances from co-leads Leighsa Burgin and Fiore Leo. Both performers layer their performances nicely, a challenging task in a suspenseful 25-minute film that demands you to be invested in the story but also can't give away too much of the story early on. The supporting players are strong, as well, with William Bloomfield particularly shining in one incredible scene.

When you consider this is a microcinema project, the camera work by James Sullivan astounds with its blending together of suspense, menace and, at times, a sense of normalcy. Nicholas David Potvin's original music adds intensity to the film's suspense, but avoids overwhelming given the film's relatively brief running time.

With a short film, success is often measured by either developing a cohesive and wholly satisfying story or, alternately, making you crave more time with the story and its characters. Her Heart Still Beats clearly falls into the latter category and is a short film that both pays homage to the brilliance of Edgar Allan Poe and introduces us even further to the talented filmmaking of Christopher Di Nunzio.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic