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New York City Horror Film Festival Preview: Stephen Martin’s “DEAD HEARTS”

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With the 14th annual New York City Horror Film Festival kicking off tonight at Times Scare, fright fans have been abuzz wondering how the longstanding fest will do in its new, visceral venue. And while the films playing at NYCHFF include such anticipated fright fare such as LANDMINE GOES CLICK and MOST LIKELY TO DIE as well as acclaimed shorts EL GIGANTE and SLUT, FANGORIA was able to preview one final short selection ahead of the festival, Stephen Martin’s DEAD HEARTS.

As the filmmaker and narrative are both clearly aware of, there’s definitely a storybook element that makes DEAD HEARTS so utterly charming from start to finish, not to mention the fact that it treats the horror elements so circumstantially that it really transcends genre. Martin nails down his aesthetic almost immediately, offering a quirky, morbid sense of humor that grounds his universe and his atmosphere in a world somewhere between the minds of Wes Anderson and Henry Selick. But above all, DEAD HEARTS is the kind of film that is incredibly confident in its story and direction, allowing a narrator fill in the gaps while paying off every set-up effectively. And thanks to the exceptional score from Luke Moore, Sean Cox’s wonderful cinematography and Megan Bodaly’s on-point editing, Martin is able to give DEAD HEARTS the vibrant life it needs to tonally carry the darker aspects of the subject matter.

A winner at the St. Louis International Film Festival and even in consideration for an Oscar Nomination, DEAD HEARTS is an affecting, fun and even occasionally bloody short that will steal your heart, and hopefully not as literally as it does in the film. A simple film that feels layered, complicated and confident, DEAD HEARTS is a definite crowd-pleaser and while it’s short on frights, it’s undeniably entertaining. New York horror hounds can catch DEAD HEARTS on Friday, November 13th at the New York City Horror Film Festival, and you can check out the trailer for this clever horror short below!

About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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