Starring: Isaac Jay, Ashleigh Morghan, Bevin Bru, Tory Freeth
Written by: Elle Callahan/Micheal Nader
Directed by: Elle Callahan
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Reviewed by Dan Oles
Some tropes are like the villains of horror films themselves: impossible to kill.
They endure endlessly, seemingly out of sheer cussedness. Possibly out of nostalgia or out of ignorance of their timeworn nature? Maybe the concept of a collection of teenagers traveling to a remote location to party and eventually being stalked by a killer is just an easy pitch to studios or strikes some kind of fond remembrance chord in a majority of people longing for youthful flings and a lack of responsibilities.
Head Count seems a staunch devotee to the classics, from the unassuming hero being a recent arrival in a strange place to the maverick relative they are visiting and the wacky friends who will inevitably become part of the *cough* headcount.
Then things take a detour. It’s a subtle suggestion of something more, something interesting and even original as a threat and it changes the fabric of everything in an instant. Suddenly the fact that the cast is almost interchangeable is a plot point and sequences I’d previous devoted cursory attention to became like a clue-finding expedition as the locations and states of characters preoccupied me. Head Count has a freaky antagonist with an intriguing set of deadly abilities.
That said however, the movie is pretty conventional regardless of the central premise having promise.
Jump scares are here with the same kind of hammering orchestral blasts you’ve heard again and again. Characters are for once a bit more intelligent than the usual collection of dimwitted victims but their efforts are stymied (along with the suspense) because of some serious cheating going on courtesy the director/writer. I realize the inevitability of danger is paramount to the fright aspect of the genre, but there should be some kind of promise of safety and even salvation to make the gloom and doom more palatable and more pronounced. Flat out fatalism is freaky to some extent but makes the conclusion feel foregone.
All told there’s some nifty visuals and an equally intriguing idea that you could build something truly inspired from. This outing however feels a bit formulaic, a bit jerky, and leaves things so open at the end it doesn’t feel entirely finished. Still, it is not poorly acted or directed.
Check it out if you can stick it out till the reveal. Maybe Head Count 2 will bring all of this promise home.
Anti-Hero: an original motion comic series with professional voice actors!