Slasher Month: The Head Hunter (2019)

“Have you ever felt the need for vengeance?” opened the film review posted at our fellow WordPress site, On the Subject of Horror. They, like B&S About Movies, take a Charlie Kaufman-approach to reviews and write ourselves — along with our past fears and pains — into our reviews. Why? Because that’s how deeply we associate with films. It’s therapeutic. So, I kept reading . . . and discovered a film that slipped by me, as result of Mr. Covell’s engaging writing. So, you see, personalizing film reviews, in conjunction, with a little self-deprecation, works. For we leave the haughty Variety, to well, Variety. Yeah, they’re a fine publication, as is The Hollywood Reporter, but well, you gotta go gonzo and be a little different on the digital plains along the muddy banks of the ol’ Allegheny.

And “different” best describes The Head Hunter: a film that just isn’t a piece of once-swallowed-and-gone-head candy and click, “next-movie” consumption: this movie sticks to your brain and burrows into your marrows — where those pesky little Tardigrades swim amid your biology.

Sure, we enjoy the big, CGI “shock scares” of the A24 and Blumhouse variety, and James Wan (Malignant) never steers us wrong, but it’s the little guys that get us. What really intrigues us at B&S About Movies aren’t those filmmakers with ten or one hundred million dollars in their pocket: it’s what the filmmakers with $10,000 or $100,000 in their pocket can do. You know those films: the production cost of one shot/scene in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman could cover the entire production cost of an indie streamer.

Such a film — discovered courtesy of One the Subject of Horror (Read. That. Blog.) — is The Head Hunter.

Geezus. He looks like a bad acid-tripped Batman.

Using Jean-Jacques Annaud’s 1981 film Quest for Fire as inspiration and shooting in Portugal and Norway, this brilliant feature film by Jordan Downey and Kevin Stewart, the team behind the ThanksKilling franchise (?), was shot for a mere $40,000.

Let me say that again: this film was short for four Salmon P. Chase greenbacks. By the ThanksKilling guys.

In some faraway Norwegian wood, we meet our medieval bounty hunter who tracks down monsters and other beasts of burden for his kingdom. When his daughter is slaughtered by one of those beasts, he transforms into an unstoppable “slasher” for the cause. Only, instead of flailing and wailing “final girls”: he’s collecting the heads of monsters.

Our father (an excellent Christopher Rygh) comes to learn that the dish of cold vengeance from which he dines, as with Max von Sydow’s Töre in Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, will never fill, never quench his internal furnaces of burning hate. “Father” isn’t a bully, but as in any bully: Sure, the initially draw of first blood floods the cortex with sweet brain candy. Then the emptiness, returns. For vengeance never quenches. Revenge never satisfies. Well, maybe for the narcissist and the sociopath who walks down a school hallway or sits in a manager’s office. . . .

As our buds over at On the Subject of Horror pointed out: the team that gave us the ThanksKilling movies, movies about a rabid, profanity spewing turkey puppet, made this. Which makes this $40,000 streaming wonder all the more amazing.

Are there a production faux-pas? Sure there is, as is par for the digital greenways, uh, maybe (my eye saw none). But there is no question this is a beautifully shot film and a non-sugary feast for the brain.

As another fan opined on another You Tube upload of the trailer: “Someone give these guys a budget, this movie was great!”

Indeed.

Initially distributed by Vertical Entertainment on digital media, The Head Hunter found its way to DVD through Lionsgate. You can watch it online at Amazon Prime and Roku. To learn more, the film also has a very well-written and informative Wikipage that will take care of the “DVD supplement” needs in a streamer’s live.

Do yourself a favor: watch this movie. For if ye do not, thy shall feel the wrath of . . . oh, who are we kidding? We’re bully-scarred milquetoast movie calves . . . and you can kick our little white-veal asses to kingdom come with the slightest branch of Norwegian wood. Like the warriors from GWAR: you wouldn’t even break a sweat dispatching us. But you could take a moment to hit that “like” button or leave a comment for us hard-writing lads.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes film reviews for B&S About Movies and publishes on Medium.

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