Kickstart My Heart ★★★★ HollyShorts Film Festival

Kickstart My Heart ★★★★ HollyShorts Film Festival

A horror film that isn’t afraid to kick some ass, Kickstart My Heart is everything you want it to be. Kelsey Bollig has made a film you never want to stop watching- a fantastic short from a highly promising filmmaker.

Director: Kelsey Bollig

Cast: Emma Pasarow, Cooper Alexander, Kelsey Bollig, Jacqueline Bell, Sadie Eve Scott


After a gruesome car accident, a young woman fights her mind’s three levels of hell to survive.

Creative and impactful, Kickstart My Heart is the type of action horror that you cannot get enough of. Sadly, for us, we only get around 13 minutes here, but wow, what a 13 minutes we get. From that shocking opening all the way through to that final shot, we are with Lilly in her battle. This is another short you wish was longer, but after reflection, see that it is, in fact, the perfect length. Leaving to want to catch everything Bollig, Pasarow and co have done, such is how strong a film that they have made here.

There are so many smart inclusions in Kickstart My Heart that it would be difficult to list them all. The use of the continual attacks to show the actual damage the car accident did to Lilly is fantastic. To include them during the fights as if we are watching a Mortal Kombat fight only adds to the fun of the entire film. The transitions between fights feel alive and constant, with there being limited cuts during them.

Cinematographer Allie Schultz is always on her toes during the fight scenes, with numerous whip pans and moves to capture just the right moment and, in some cases, angles of the fights that you wouldn’t see too often in action films. There is a brilliant moment where Lilly is kicked backwards, and she rolls into the camera, and the camera itself moves as if she has collided with it. These little moments strike you and bring something fresh. As mentioned, there are just marvellous touches all around here.

Kickstart My Heart takes no prisoners with its action, which is far more hard-hitting than some blockbuster films recently. The choreography is pitch-perfect, bringing just the right amount of violence to proceedings, even if they are from zombies, ninja and what can only be described as a pig, vampire Freddie Kruger skin burned demon. Bollig isn’t afraid to get serious when required either, with the final battle for Lilly’s survival being someone a lot closer to home. It allows you to see how smart a film this really is.

Pasarow has much to do here in Kickstart My Heart, and she carries it all on her shoulders easily. Pulling off the action and the drama we are pulling for her to survive, add that also to the relatability of her character as she works out what is going on, and we have a winner.

When you discover that the entire concept of the film was based on a near-death experience from writer-director Kelsey Bollig, your appreciation increases ten-fold. As much as this is a film that is full of entertainment, it feels like a piece of catharsis. Bollig could easily have made a documentary about her accident and experiences to get to the recovered state she is in now. But instead, she went this route, and it is wonderful that she did. It showcases her skillset as a filmmaker and allows for her creativity to come to the fore.

You can’t but love Kickstart My Heart; it goes all out in such a great way; I honestly can’t wait to see what Bollig and Pasarow do next, as they have my full interest, and they should have yours too.


The annual Academy Awards® Qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival will celebrate its 18th year August 11-20, 2022. HollyShorts (HSFF) brings together top creators, industry leaders, and companies and has launched many filmmakers into the next stages of their careers. HollyShorts, a regular on the MovieMaker Magazine Top 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee list, also engages its community and spotlights short films year-round through monthly screenings, panels, and networking events. 

The most recent edition of HollyShorts had six selections nominated for Academy Awards this year with two wins for Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed’s The Long Goodbye and Ben Proudfoot’s Queen of Basketball.

HollyShorts Film Festival will take place in-person at the TCL Chinese Theaters in Hollywood, and stream via Bitpix TV,  with the annual Awards Gala set to take place on August 20, 2022. 

For tickets to the festival please click here.

For more of our reviews of the festival, please check out below:


North Star


Act of God





How Do You Measure a Year?




Love, Dad

Paper Thin

Kickstart My Heart

Return to Sender

Skin & Bone


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