‘Torn Hearts’ tears into country music space with director Brea Grant at helm

Ryan Ranc, Life & Arts Reporter

This article contains spoilers for Torn Hearts.

Brea Grant returns to maintain her title among the modern masters of horror with her newest movie “Torn Hearts.” The film follows country music duo Jordan (Abby Quinn) and Leigh (Alexxis Lemire) as they try to make a name for themselves as the Torn Hearts by tracking down and making a song with their country music idol, Harper Dutch (Katey Sagal). Then, things take a turn for the deadly, and the Nashville duo learns that fame comes at a grizzly cost.

Whether she’s writing or directing, Grant’s movies — such as “12 Hour Shift” and “Lucky” — take on character-driven narratives and focus heavily on strong female characters that stand out against their male counterparts. “Torn Hearts” does the same, giving each character depth and motive whether the audience cheers for them or not. While Jordan prefers the art of music over fame, Leigh craves fame at any cost and reveals her self-centered nature slowly throughout the run time. Harper mourns the loss of her bandmate but constantly mumbles that she must atone for the actions she has committed. These three leading ladies, along with the supporting characters, combine to not only build an enriching plot but reveal themes such as the consequences of idolizing your heroes and the misogyny found within the country music scene.

While many performances stood out, Sagal went above and beyond, delivering an unnerving performance that progressively becomes more apparent as the story plays out. The audience starts out seeing Harper as a fallen star who has suffered the loss of her sister, but the story unfolds to reveal her much more sinister intentions. A motif of tapping fingers from Sagal suggests when her character has an evil scheme in mind. The finger motif even comes back in a sickly comedic way after the movie’s twist unravels.

Grant’s knack for creating intense scenarios remains prevalent within “Torn Hearts.” The third act shows off Grant’s expert direction when Harper chases Jordan and Leigh with a shotgun. Another excellent moment manifests when an argument between Jordan and Leigh gets intercut with Harper aggressively slicing a strawberry rhubarb pie.

In terms of aesthetics, there’s a lot to unpack. The costumes draw inspiration from country musicians with sequin-covered outfits and cowboy boots, which shine on the screen and create an atmosphere that die-hard country fans can get behind. The film also embraces colored lighting with its many pinks, blues and reds, but nothing can top the pink handguns and shotguns wielded by the movie’s lead characters.

“Torn Hearts” continues Grant’s reign as a modern horror master through well-developed characters and emotional themes. Horror audiences will love this movie if they enjoyed “12 Hour Shift” and “Lucky.” For those who aren’t fans of horror, this film may offer a good place to dip their toes into the terror of horror cinema thanks to Grant’s melodramatic storytelling that inches its way into absolute psychological terror.

4 strawberry rhubarb pies out of 5