Rise of The Dead: The Undead Heart – By Jack HillebrechtShort Film Review

This short film takes a new, completely unique look at the zombie genre, prioritizing tone and character over what would often be considered the more traditional zombie tale. 

The film opens with an unexpected upbeat song and images of zombies, as a teenage girl starts a letter to her former girlfriend, during a zombie plague. Our lead character is protected against this as she has received a cure. So fear is not what’s overtaking her. 

The story is told through the letter and various flashbacks detailing the story of how the two girls fell in love during the plague and how they were separated – only for Molly to return as a zombie. 

The narration through the letter works really well in this film as the character recalls how she and Molly fell in love and how it all went wrong. It also sets the tone of a romance story rather than just the sheer horror of living in a zombie plague. It focuses on emotion giving this story and tone an absolutely unique feel, with an incredibly engaging execution.

The language in the letter moves the story along perfectly and it is completely believable, while still cleverly using falsified world. As she talks about the things that make her happy and how Molly transformed as a zombie, we are effectively able to have compassion for her and to relate to that feeling of loss. The sadness and realness of this emotion makes this story stand out and work so well.

The acting is also crucial, and impressive, with our main character portraying real heartbreak at losing her girlfriend after just five weeks, which we know to teenagers can seem like forever. The contrast of then and now is effective, with their memories full of bright colors and cheerful smiles, only to be replaced with dark lighting, moody outlook, which shows the sadness and evolution of the character. As we reach the end of the film where the character is now feeling content, the screen is filled with bright colors again and this helps to portray the hope of the character. 

It was really positive to see this story portrayed in this way, and watching how the relationship grew so complexly. It added layers and made for an intriguing progression. When Molly returns as a zombie, the love is still there as we see and feel that through writing, performance and direction.

The zombies themselves are not as threatening as zombies we may come across in most of today’s films. Because there is now a cure for the zombie plague, they are less scary to the main character and therefore to the audience too. This also prevents the focus being taken away from the character’s relationships. 

The music in the film is fantastic; the cheerful opening song helps us to imagine the typical life of two young girls in love and as things go wrong, this is replaced with more melancholy music that helps to set the tone of the main characters’ memories. The dark images of zombies in the opening shows that this is just not a typical love story and the focus on their faces is effective in setting the scene. In contrast, the ending pans the outdoor surrounding more and this helps contribute to that feeling of content. 

The film successfully brings us in, compels us forward and wraps it all up, resulting in a lovely, unique take on the zombie genre as a whole. 

We very much look forward to seeing where Jack Hillebrecht goes next!


3.7 / 5


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