Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Head Hunter: Low Budget With Solid Suspense

Reel Reviews

“The Head Hunter” tells the story of a lone warrior without a name who resides in the dark woods, waiting until he is called upon for one task—to hunt down and slay monsters. With each monster he defeats, the lone warrior collects its head as a trophy for his wall. However, while his collection grows, his patience for his life of solitude begins to wane as he waits for the day when he can collect the head of one specific monster, the one who killed his daughter.

It’s been a while since I’ve looked at a fantasy story, and I chose “The Head Hunter” for that reason. I was expecting a fantasy/adventure movie, but what I found instead was a film that takes elements from fantasy stories like “The Witcher” or “Beowulf” mixed with the atmosphere of horror and suspense of a film like “A Quiet Place.” Ironically, all three stories involve monsters. However, before I can go any further into my critique of the movie, we need to discuss something important—movie budgets.

Like with running a city or country, a movie is granted a budget that is used on various parts in making the film a reality; it all amounts to how it is used and spent. Actors, effects, sets, locations, everything that we see in a movie wouldn’t be possible without the money used from the budget provided. However, every budget is different depending on the studio and/or producer financing said film. For example, it’s pretty clear that a filmmaker working for a company like Walt Disney Studios is going to have a far more vast budget then a filmmaker working independently. 

Where am I going with this? Well, being that “The Head Hunter” was an independent production, it of course came with a small budget—probably the smallest I’ve seen so far. The estimated budget was said to be only $30,000. Yes, this film was made with the same amount the average person would spend on a car. So, you might be thinking that this film was cheap looking and that the overall movie suffers for it, correct? Well, you’d be wrong.

With only a short cast to work with, most of the budget it seems went to the locations, design of the monsters, costume and set design—and it all blends well together. Which works in conjunction with the feeling of silence and suspense the movie brings; which is something I wish big-budget blockbusters would do more often. While there’s little dialogue in the movie, the acting is still an A+ delivery from the main character, played by Christopher Rygh.

Unfortunately, despite the movie’s many strong perks, it has one large weak point that hurts the overall film—the lack of fight scenes. A movie doesn’t need nonstop action to make it good. In fact, I’d say that too much action can hurt it and make it boring. However, for a movie about a man who hunts down and slays monsters, it was fair to expect scenes of him combatting said monsters. Instead, most of the action happens off-camera, except for maybe the final confrontation near the end. We do see the aftereffects of his battles, how it ravages his body, and the head of the monster he defeated, but overall, it just left me wishing I could actually SEE the combat. 

I suppose it was a budget issue, and perhaps the filmmakers didn’t want to resort to CGI, because all the effects in the film are practical. There’s nothing edited in or computerized, it’s all real—which is another thing I liked about the film. Still, the lack of fight scenes in a fantasy story is a bad outcome for what could have been an amazing independent film.

“The Head Hunter” is rated R for frightening scenes along with violence and gore. Overall, this is an interesting film with good suspense and build up, just with a rather disappointing result that leaves you wanting more. However, I’d still recommend all who are curious to give this film a look. It’s a short viewing, however, clocking in at a 72-minute runtime. I hope that the creators behind the film get to work with a bigger allowance for their next project. Given what they were able to accomplish with such a small amount, it’s interesting to think what they could do with a far larger budget. As for “The Head Hunter,” the final score is a fair 7.5 out of 10.

Matthew Mendisana is a Lynn University alumnus. While he possesses a Bachelor’s Degree in Science, it’s the arts that attracted his attention. He currently serves as a Journalist and Copy Editor to the Coastal Breeze News and is working on becoming a Published Author.

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