LONELY HEARTS * UK 2019 Dir: Jessica Hunt & Sam Mason-Bell. 91 mins
Lonely Hearts is a reality TV show where 5 singles are plonked into a camp site in the British countryside and set a number of challenges to encourage them to work together and couple up (hard to do when there’s 5 of you huh?) but in this instance and for a few of the contestants it has deadly consequences. The first 2 contestants are middle aged conservative types; Donny (Martin W. Payne) a mild mannered vicar who can’t seem to land a girlfriend that won’t cheat on him and Carol (Sue Dawes) a widowed plain Jane type. Then you have the arrogant ladies man Fred (Chris Mills), the confident yet easy Kirsty (Tyne Stewart) and the mousey Claire (Alice Mulholland). Instantly the group splits into 2. The oldies pair up and chat whereas the young’uns help themselves to the free booze and quickly run off for a threesome in one of the tents which of course has a hidden camera in it. Regretting her first 3 way in a tent experience Claire goes to the less than sympathetic producer Patricia (Sophie Atkinson) and asks to leave. Given that their recent tent exploits are the only thing keeping the show going Patricia convinces Claire to stay one more night. Bad news for Claire as she is degraded and humiliated once more then meets a sticky end just when she thinks she can get out of it. The winning couple however would probably wish they had gone a similar way to Claire as their prize isn’t quite the luxury holiday they had hoped for either. Reading other people’s thoughts on this movie have left me feeling rather perplexed I have to admit. Many seem to praise this this quite highly stating that its a “well acted erotic docu- horror”. I really do have to disagree with these thoughts very strongly. I found this excruciating throughout and could find anything to like about it at all. The one thing I agree with is that it is about as awkward to watch as an actual reality TV show and the dialogue is on par ( “I bet you know your way around a condom”). The thing you find with most reality shows is that they do at least try to cut out the boring bits. This was just mind meltingly boring throughout even the so called challenges were absolutely pitiful, for example, the chop up some wood (really badly) challenge, another one was go skinny dipping in a hideous looking pond, last one to stay in wins breakfast, erm, enthralling stuff and all the while the characters are just moaning about everything. I mustn’t forget the erotic scenes I’m sure you’re dying to hear about… I’ve seen more erotic things on postcards at the seaside. If your idea of erotic is a couple of 3 ways in a tent with some clumsy writhing about, dry humping and screaming shown on a dodgy hidden camera then I’m sure you will love this but it did absolutely nothing for me.I didn’t enjoy the acting either, I disliked all the characters and found it a bit amateur and just awkward. It takes a long time to get to the more disturbing last 20 minutes or so of which there is no hint of prior to the point where the first contestant is killed so when it happens if feels out of place and the final torture scene goes on way too long to make any lasting impact, again it just gets awkward. Not really much of a soundtrack to speak of and the FX, although practical, are really nothing spectacular. It was created on a low budget which shows in the setting, especially in the camp site which has more of a family holiday vibe to it then a hip singles reality TV show but it is what it is. This one I really did not enjoy at all but others seem to and I have no idea why. When it comes to reality TV spin offs or spoofs I’m much more of a DEAD SET kind of girl I’m afraid.
Review by Sarah Budd