Blumhouse TV’s direct to streaming films end up being enormously entertaining and remind me of the reasons why I love the made for TV movies of the past. For some reason, they feel more focused despite — or perhaps because of — their reduced budgets.
Torn Hearts is a great example of that.
Leigh (Alexxis Lemire) and Jordan (Abby Quinn) are the Torn Hearts, a Nashville duo working hard every day and every night to make it in the country music business. Of the two, Jordan is the one who might be less comfortable on stage and more a music lifer, someone whose closest shot at fame may be someone else singing her song. Leigh is the mover, sweet on the outside but smart enough to get sleep before the studio (and hooking up with the band’s manager played by Joshua Leonard from The Blair Witch Project). As for Jordan? She’s hooking up with country megastar Caleb (Shiloh Fernandez, Evil Dead) and already learning that most men in the business are all out for themselves.
So while their fling doesn’t lead to any opportunities, it does open one door. Caleb had been working with the mysterious Harper Dutch, one half of a country duo that the Torn Hearts idolize. Katey Segal owns this movie, emitting Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? vibes while maintaining old country rock and roll edge. She’s pure danger, ready to confess to past sins, drink hard liquor before 9 AM and put the girls through some brutal encounter exercises for the chance to record with her.
Directed by Brea Grant (who was Mya Rockwell in Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2) and written by Rachel Koller Croft (who also wrote the lyrics for the strong songs within the film), Torn Hearts is a real surprise. A country music based horror movie about lost fame, regret and trying to instill lessons in someone who is in your old shoes but not having the language or sanity to achieve your aims. Or maybe Harper just likes tearing things up?
Yaron Levy, who was the cinematographer for Scream: The TV Series, The Purge series and the upcoming Maniac Cop revival makes this film look dark and sinister when needed and sugar sweet when that’s the mood. Editor Hunter M. Via (The Mist, The Walking Dead) really makes the end tense and adds some true surprise with the way shots are revealed.
This film made me reflect on the sadness of country. One needs only look at the recent tragedy of the Judds to see that achieving fame is just part of the story. Life doesn’t get easier when you’re famous. And when family is part of the story, things can be hard. I’ve been thinking through this movie and how it comes together — and it’s dark as it gets coda — since I’ve watched it. You’ll be doing the same when you do.
Torn Hearts is available for digital purchase from Paramount Home Entertainment.