When faced with a life-or-death scenario, would you rise to the occasion and see yourself as the victor in the end? What would it take for you to fight for your life? In Kelsey Bollig’s Kickstart My Heart, these questions are at the forefront of the writer-director’s based-on-a-true-story script. The film follows a young woman named Lilly (Emma Pasarow), whose life is literally put on pause after a gruesome car accident leaves her for dead. Lilly must fight through the three levels of hell in her mind to survive.
Kickstart My Heart is the kind of short film that I love to celebrate. It’s daring, creative, and uses every minute of its brief runtime to reel audiences in on its protagonist’s journey. Not much is known about Lilly, yet Bollig finds a way to ensure audiences cheer the character on every step of her journey. In the opening sequence, we see Lilly begin her day with a run, which is presumably her regular exercise routine. Only this time, Lilly gets hit by a car and is forced to fight for her life.
“Lilly must fight through the three levels of hell in her mind to survive.”
To represent each fight visually, Bollig sets the bouts in a hellscape version of the main character’s home. Of course, this is all in her mind, but it’s a beautiful representation of being on the verge of life and death. While trapped in the maze of her mind, Lilly meets an unlikely hero who is there to assist her in the upcoming battles. It’s the perfect added touch to emphasize survival, love, and loss.
Kickstart My Heart has so much going for it, but its greatest achievements are the action sequences and fight choreography. Director of photography Allie Schultz’s creative camera work and use of intricate angles to capture the fights are stellar. Plus, Pasarow does a wonderful job navigating the bodily requirements of her role. Together, with the nice costuming, hair & makeup, the cast and crew create a short film that I easily see as one of the best of the year.
Not much else needs to be said about Kickstart My Heart. But if you need to be convinced to see it, take it from me: this horror title is simple, fun, and kick-a*s! The fact that it’s based on a real-life experience makes me appreciate the story more. Simply put, this is the kind of indie short worth celebrating year-round. I just wish it was longer.
"…the kind of indie short worth celebrating year-round."