BBC - Mark Kermode's film blog

« Previous | Main | Next »

Heartless in mouth

Post categories:

Mark Kermode | 11:27 UK time, Friday, 28 August 2009

Philip Ridley, probably most famous for writing The Krays starring Spandau Ballet brothers Martin and Gary Kemp, is also the writer/director of one of my favourite cinematic experiences of recent years, The Passion of Darkly Noon, and now he has made a horror movie, Heartless. And I haven't seen it. And, frankly, I'm terrified.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions


  • Comment number 1.

    Cant't tell you anything about "Heartless", but I did have the dubious pleasure of watching a preview of "The Descent: Part 2" this week.
    I, too, loved the first part and was saddened to find that the sequel is nothing more than a generic monster-movie with cardboard characters (one of which in particular strains the limits of how idiotic a characte is allowed to be, even in a B-movie), a halfbaked plot and the attempt to mask all this through the use of plenty of blood and dismemberment. "The Descent" never needed a sequel and it definitely did not need this one. One fears that the producers are considering turning this into a franchise.

  • Comment number 2.

    From the man that spent months overhyping Pan's Labyrinth before it's release, I find it a bit rich that you'd complain.

  • Comment number 3.

    I knew that Philip Ridley had written The Krays, but not that he directed a film. As a huge fan of his dark children books when I read them in primary school and still reading now, I will definately 100% try and see The Passion of Darkly Noon, hoping its like the books I read but just turned up to 11.

  • Comment number 4.

    was'nt fussed with 'the descent'

    looking forward to 'heartless' loved 'the passion of darkly noon' but i prefer 'the reflecting skin'

    another britsh director i like is james marshwho is similar to ridley but more prolific

  • Comment number 5.

    Your point about keeping deliriously-high expectations about a movie in check really hit home with me. I adored 'Watchmen' in graphic novel form, and as such I tried my best not to hype myself up too much for the movie in case I tainted my perspective on the film as I watched it. To that end, I avoided the trailer and stopped myself from reading interviews with Zack Snyder et al. It was absolutely worth it; I was engaged and enthralled by the movie for the entire running-time, taking absolute pleasure in never having seen a single second of the movie in motion and being able to assess it without preconceptions.

    From that point on, I've developed a reluctance to indulge myself by watching trailers and basking in the hype for highly-anticipated movies. The most recent example would have to be Avatar, and I can't think of a more appropriate release to be applying this practice of mine to. If it's going to be as groundbreaking and visceral as everyone casually says it'll be, then I want to put myself in the best position to experience it as such.

  • Comment number 6.

    Aw, the good doctor's all excited. Bless.

    I sense hesitation about Descent 2 though, and I agree. It really didn't need a sequel - I thought the great thing about the original was that, in my interpretation at least, xxx killed everyone else and the monsters are all in her head. Depressing endings? Forget The Mist. Surely a sequel undoes all this?

  • Comment number 7.

    xxx? Sorry, meant Sarah. It's late.

  • Comment number 8.

    I've been looking to see "The Passion of Darkly Noon" and "The Reflecting Skin" for years, but they're might hard to find.

  • Comment number 9.

    How exactly would you define "proper" filmmakers and films?

  • Comment number 10.

    I went and saw The Final Destination, I normally go to cineworld and have a unlimited card which in theory grants free access to any film in general release but I had to pay £1.50 for the cinema to afford the screen, which I was just offended by.

  • Comment number 11.

    Whtterz, I forgot to mention that "The Descent 2" follows the US-cut of "The Descent", which omits the very last scene.

  • Comment number 12.

    I always try to set my expectations at neutral before I see any film, but there are some film-makers that (annoyingly) make me anticipate more. Paul T. Anderson, David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, Gaspar Noe, and, of course, Jim Cameron. Avatar trailer looks good to me, but I'm sure the hype and anticipation felt by many who have had blue balls for near 11 years now may end up being *crushed*.

  • Comment number 13.

    I've never heard of Philip Ridely before so I looked him up on imdb (as I usually do when Mark mentions a film or filmmaker I've not heard of) and I'm pleased to see his two films (other than Heartless) star Viggo Mortensen. Is that another reason Mark likes the director so much?

  • Comment number 14.

    Is there any way to edit your comments after they've been posted? I've made some foolish spelling mistakes...

  • Comment number 15.

    i cant make it to the frightfest this year but i am DEADLY excited about that film, especially as your sources seem to shed great light upon this forthcoming film too, so now your great anticipation has spread... thanks (?)

  • Comment number 16.

    on the subject of horror i would like to know your opinion on the recently banned film GROTESQUE that payed homage to the guinea pig film series (or the first couple in particular), and the also recent downgrading of Friday the 13th to a 15 certificate (the 1980 version obviously).

  • Comment number 17.

    doc mark, unrelated, but could you do a blog on what you think of the original case of the exorcism of anneliese michel and it's subsequent movie portrayals. I find the whole episode fascinating for many reasons, not least because such a beautiful girl degenerated in such a dramatic way, and also there's a paranormal horrific element to the myth as well. cheers.

  • Comment number 18.

    Oh that's what that films called. Guessed Darkly Noon was in the title, but had never pinned it down. Seen it plenty of times (all you folk who missed it, just keep an eye on late night TV schedules, it drifts in like waves every so often and is then shown several times in a few months), and it's... interesting. Not sure it's great or that I'd recommend it, but as I've sat through it more than once we can put it in the 'good' pile.

    As you don't want spoilers I won't tell you about the squirrel.


    If there is a squirrel in Heartless, that'll be really spooky.

  • Comment number 19.

    I thought the same about District 9 Mark. I was sure this could never live up to the hype of the trailers and the trail of glowing reviews it left behind.

    It was...better than I could have hoped. It's the best thing I've seen all year, or maybe any year. I need to see it again.

    As you're a fellow man of your word I hope Heartless is as good as you hope. I'll have to check Ridley out now. Thanks man. Keep it up.


  • Comment number 20.

    just watched darkly noon after seeing this, wow that was great, normally not a fan of brendan fraser but he really worked in this i didnt find him distracting like i would.

    well how was heartless then, we need a review now after this.

  • Comment number 21.

    Seriously? Darkly Noon? The one with Brendan Fraser as the barbed-wire bound onanist and an embarrassed-looking Viggo Mortensen as a whistling mute? The only other thing I've seen of Ridley's was a godawful, turgid play called Leaves of Glass, so I'm a bit surprised to hear you like him. Happily, I've not got much pride to swallow, so I'll gladly watch Heartless with a clean slate.

    Just to silence the nagging voice in my head that you just like anything with religious symbology, no matter how overwrought, please tell me you don't also like The Boondock Saints?

  • Comment number 22.

    Saw Heartless at FF last night - Alan Jones described it as his very favourite film of the year, and though I wouldn't go as far as he does, I did find it a very absorbing watch, and it was great to see such a distinctive, imaginative and unapologetically BRITISH horror film get financed and produced. It's by no means flawless, but has some great ideas, visual flourish, a dash (not too much) of social commentary, and a real sense of film-making craft. Look out for a truly fantastic cameo from Eddie Marsan, too. More of this, and less of Lesbian Vampire Killers please!

    PS Descent 2 was thoroughly enjoyable too, IMO the 2nd best film of the festival after the superb Trick R Treat

  • Comment number 23.

    Hey, Dr K, thanks for the recommendation of Darkly Noon, just watched it and enjoyed it. I'll try to track down Philip Ridley's other films. Now I'm excited about Heartless - anyone got any information on when I might get to be able to see it (being as I've missed FF)?

  • Comment number 24.

    Well I saw Heartless at Frighfest on Monday 31st August and have to say I was pretty underwhelmed with this movie. There was nothing new and original in this movie as the Director Philip Ridley had claimed but seemed to be a case of mixing a number of horror sub-genres and hoping they all hung together. Ridley made the pretty high-handed comment that he had "invented a new genre of horror" and that Heartless was "not just a horror fim but a real Movie!". Oh Hosannah! Philip Ridley and his luvvie squad on a big white charger saving the Horror Genre from itself! - the Observer and Guardian WILL be delighted. This comment, said in all seriousness before and after the movie really did irritate a large number of people in the audience and was quite insulting to the genre. The comment smacked of high pretension and lack of knowledge of the genre on the part of the Director and producers of Heartless. Has Ridley never seen movies like Angel Heart?, does he think Horror movies goers are so irredeemably thick that they couldnt possibly (dahling) have heard of Faust? Social commentary through the medium of Horror? Not heard of that one either Mr Ridley? This movie was essentially Faust with Hoodies crossed with Open Your Eyes. Ridley didnt even invent the whole "Hoodie Horror" thing - this was done by the Director of Eden Lake last year. The "twist" at the end you could see coming after about 10 minutes into the movie - the plot was really so obvious and cliche-ridden. I didnt hate this movie but just found it really quite average and couldnt see what all the fuss was about. Jim Sturgess was probably the only good thing about it.

  • Comment number 25.

    As of writing, other than those who may or may not have seen it privately, 1300 odd people saw it as the penultimate film at Frightfest. For their full opinions please go to:

    Those expecting the usual Ridley gushfest may be in for a rude awakening. But it is a horror movie shown to the diehardest of horror fans and is judged as just that.

  • Comment number 26.

    I'd hardly call the Frightfest forum's reaction to the film typical of the response to the film - the audience was pretty much evenly split into love-it-or-hate-it camps, which is pretty common with all of Ridley's stuff.

    I think you'll like it Mark, but it is very different from Reflecting Skin and Darkly Noon.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.