Sweetheart (2019 film)

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Sweetheart (2019) Film Poster.jpg
Directed byJ. D. Dillard
Produced by
  • Jason Blum
  • J. D. Dillard
  • Bill Karesh
  • Alex Hyner
  • Alex Theurer
Written by
  • J. D. Dillard
  • Alex Hyner
  • Alex Theurer
Music byCharles Scott IV
CinematographyStefan Duscio
Edited byGina Hirsch
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • January 28, 2019 (2019-01-28) (Sundance)
  • October 22, 2019 (2019-10-22) (United States)
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited States

Sweetheart is a 2019 American survival horror film directed by J. D. Dillard, written by Dillard, Alex Theurer and Alex Hyner, and starring Kiersey Clemons, Emory Cohen, Hanna Mangan-Lawrence and Andrew Crawford. It was produced by Jason Blum, Dillard, Theurer, Hyner and Bill Karesh.[1][2]

It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 28, 2019. It was released on October 22, 2019 via on demand and digital by Universal Pictures.[3]


After their boat sinks during a storm, Jennifer “Jen” Remming washes ashore a small, tropical island and then finds her friend Brad, who dies from his wounds shortly after. While exploring the island, Jen discovers the belongings and graves of a family that once lived there. She later buries Brad’s corpse in the sand, but discovers the grave uncovered and a trail of blood leading to the ocean the following morning.

The next day, while retrieving her newly surfaced luggage, Jen finds an ominous hole in the ocean’s floor. That night, Jen fails to flag down an airplane using a flare gun and encounters a giant, humanoid sea monster. For the next four nights, Jen manages to hide from the monster while also attempting to catch and kill it. As Jen prepares for the fourth night, the corpse of another mutual friend, Zack, washes ashore mutilated and bisected. Jen later uses his body as bait, seeing the monster clearly for the first time. For her fifth attempt, Jen sleeps in a makeshift hammock in the trees to watch the monster arrive. When the monster notices the hammock he starts to touch it and it slowly drops, Jen stabs the creature with a sharpened stick and narrowly escapes.

The next day, Jen is reunited with her boyfriend Lucas Griffin and friend Mia Reed after the two wash ashore in a life raft. Jen warns Lucas and Mia about the creature, but they dismiss her claims. Jen later discovers Lucas’ pocketknife bloodied. Jen tries to convince them to get in the lifeboat and escape before dark, but Lucas snaps at her and refuses to go. Jen makes a desperate attempt to flee without the two, but they chase her and throw her out of the life raft. During the escape attempt, Mia knocks Jen out with a boat paddle after Jen kicks her in the head. Later, Jen regains consciousness to find herself tied up. Mia reveals Jen’s past of fabricated lies while Jen tries to convince her of the danger. Lucas returns and refuses to release Jen, and after Mia leaves he hints that he participated in Zack’s demise. Before Jen can ask what happened to their friend, Mia is attacked by the monster. Lucas leaves Jen tied up to fight it himself, but fails to save Mia, who is dragged into the water. Jen breaks free of her bindings and rescues Lucas.

The next morning, Lucas and Jen attempt to escape in the life raft. Jen discovers the inside is covered in blood, presumably belonging to Zack. As the two begin to head west, the sea monster attacks the raft, eventually ripping through the base and grabs Jen. As Jen is being dragged down to the black hole she remembers Lucas' penknife and stabs the monster. It releases her and drags Lucas to his death instead.

Now alone, Jen decides to confront the monster. Before setting up a trap for the monster, she chronicles her experiences with the monster in her journal in hopes of aiding any castaways who might wash up on the island after her if she fails. That night she lures the monster into a circle of wood and grass which she sets fire to. She battles the monster with a series of sharpened branches and bones from the graves of a family the monster killed. Both severely injured, the monster chases Jen to the shoreline, but collapses from its wounds. Jen decapitates the corpse and limps away to the raft, carrying the severed head as proof of what happened on the island. With the raft trashed, she is unable to sail away. It is revealed that Jen's trap has set a large portion of the island is on fire. With the size of the fire, it is likely that a plane will spot it and rescue will come.



On February 2, 2017 Blumhouse Productions announced that Kiersey Clemons was starring in the film with J. D. Dillard co-writing, producing and directing.[4] On May 9, 2017 it was announced that Hanna Mangan-Lawrence, Emory Cohen, and Benedict Samuel would co-star.[5]


Principal photography on the film began in June 2017 in Mamanuca Islands, Fiji.[6]


It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 28, 2019.[7]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 95% based on 39 reviews, with an average rating of 7.20/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Carried by Kiersey Clemons' performance, Sweetheart balances smart subtext and social commentary against effective genre thrills."[8][9]

Todd Gilchrist of TheWrap wrote: "Director and co-writer J.D. Dillard delivers a smart, streamlined thriller that skillfully integrates a careful whisper of social commentary into a story that also unfolds masterfully as a straightforward genre workout."[10] David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave it a B- and wrote: "What this potent micro-dose of a movie lacks in showmanship, it makes up for in purity and resourcefulness and a rugged performance from Kiersey Clemons".[11] John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter called it "A cracking little one-hander (mostly) that rations glimpses of its well-designed beastie expertly, the picture will please genre fans who don't mind long stretches with no dialogue."[12]

In a negative review, Dennis Harvey of Variety called it "Not quite original or stylish enough to be memorable."[13]


  1. ^ Miska, Brad (April 3, 2017). "'Sleight' Director Casts Up Survival-horror 'Sweetheart'". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  2. ^ Squires, John (February 7, 2017). "Kiersey Clemons Starring in Blumhouse Survival-Horror Film 'Sweetheart'". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  3. ^ Donnelly, Matt (September 19, 2019). "Blumhouse's 'Sweetheart' Sets October Digital Release From Universal". Variety. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  4. ^ Kroll, Justin (February 2, 2017). "Kiersey Clemons to Star in Horror Film From Blumhouse and 'Sleight' Team". Variety. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  5. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (May 9, 2017). "Hanna Mangan Lawrence & Benedict Samuel Join 'Sweetheart' From Blumhouse". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  6. ^ Sciretta, Peter (April 26, 2017). "Exclusive: JD Dillard's Secret Blumhouse Movie 'Sweetheart' Details Revealed". Slashfilm. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
  7. ^ Debruge, Peter (November 28, 2018). "Sundance Film Festival Unveils 2019 Features Lineup". Variety. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  8. ^ "Sweetheart (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
  9. ^ "Sweetheart". Metacritic.
  10. ^ Todd Gilchrist (22 October 2019). "'Sweetheart' Film Review: Kiersey Clemons Plays a Desert-Island Survivor, Who's Always Been a Survivor". TheWrap.
  11. ^ Ehrlich, David (25 September 2019). "'Sweetheart' Review: 'Cast Away' Meets 'Alien' in J.D. Dillard's Lean and Satisfying Creature Feature". IndieWire.
  12. ^ John DeFore (29 January 2019). "'Sweetheart': Film Review | Sundance 2019". The Hollywood Reporter.
  13. ^ Harvey, Dennis (12 February 2019). "Sundance Film Review: 'Sweetheart'". Variety.

External links[edit]