The idea of the perfect murder has been the subject of thrillers for the past few decades, arguably centuries. It’s not easy, what with all the motives, evidence, witnesses, and body disposal, getting in the way of never getting caught. One such killer is about to learn a valuable lesson in Russell Southam’s Black Heart, Red Hands.
Our story opens with a young woman walking the streets of Australia alone, only to quickly meet her demise by our killer. The next day, he drives her body to one of Australia’s World Heritage-listed National Parks (I don’t know what that is either) to dispose of the body in a remote location.
Meanwhile, a group of six young adults—four Australian women led by two Americans—are out on a day trip in the forest, only to stumble upon the killer’s car and eventually the killer’s victim in the trunk. Unfortunately, for the killer and the hikers, another killer is stalking them and needing to satiate his/ her hunger.
“…stumble upon the killer’s car and eventually the killer’s victim…”
If you’re looking for a short film to watch simply for some thrills, a serial killer, and beautiful Australian forests, Black Heart, Red Hands is a good one to watch. There’s a good amount of tension, violence, and mild death-inducing special effects, but that’s about it.
It’s all thrills without a story, though. This is the film’s inherent weakness. First, without reading the film’s synopsis, the story feels all over the place. It can’t decide who’s narrative it wants to follow. Is it the killer’s story, the group of hikers, the second killer, or the police investigators? Each time the focus shifts, the change in narrative is jarring. It would have served the film better, especially as this is a short, to pick one character and tell that story. My vote would have been the main killer. Follow him as he stumbles across the group of hikers, and then prey to the master killer. Do that, and you don’t need that final act with the police. Instead, find something intriguing at the end for our deadly protagonist.
Black Hearts, Red Hands succeeds as a film that produces feelings and tension in its audience as characters are being picked off one by one. But a cohesive story would have elevated the suspense and thrills to greater heights.
"…watch simply for some thrills, a serial killer, and beautiful Australian forests..."