Friday, February 27, 2015

Headless Review

Before we get into Headless, let's talk a bit about Found, a movie that hit dvd last year, and I immediately fell in love with. Found was a movie about a kid named Marty who, via snooping through his bedroom, discovered his older brother was a serial killer. It was an original, well made horror movie and also had one of the most disturbing endings you'll ever see. Marty is a bit of a horror geek, and at one point during the movie his mom takes him to the video store to rent some tapes. One of the movies he chooses is called Headless, which he's unable to rent because the tape had apparently been stolen. Turns out, his brother is the one who did the deed, and Marty finds the movie in his room, sneaks it and watches with a friend of his who's sleeping over.

The tape shows a man wearing a skull mask brutally murdering a woman, eventually decapitating her and then raping her severed head. It's a particularly nasty scene, and the goriest in the entire film. A short time after the release of Found, a kickstarter campaign began to turn Headless into an actual feature. The goal was to raise $15k, and they went above that easily, earning a total of over $20k. Apparently the gorehounds really wanted to see this thing happen. Me? I'm not much of a gorehound myself. I like some blood and whatnot in my horror flick, but I'm a monster guy. With that in mind, I understandably went into Headless not expecting to get much out of it. I find there's just not much appeal to watching bad actors hack and saw away at a dummy or two for 80 minutes.

When Headless begins, the credits describe it as a lost slasher from 1978. I've got a bit of a rant about this type of thing as well, but I won't go into it here. The short version is, there's nothing wrong with a throwback flick every now and then, but when almost every single thing coming out claims to be one, not only does it get tedious, but what are the people of 2035 going to have to throwback to? "Our new movie is a throwback to horror movies of 2015, all of which were a throwback to the 1980's!" It just doesn't work.

On to the movie itself though, Headless starts off with the scene from Found, The guy in the skull mask, murdering the woman, and then having his way with her severed head. I saw this and feared the worst, I had no interest in 80 minutes of this, over and over again. To my surprise, and delight, the movie began to actually flesh out quite a bit. The main character is the killer, and instead of just rampant depravity for no reason, the film does quite a bit to show us just why this guy is as fucked up as he is. Via flashbacks, we meet his family, a mother who despises him, forcing him to live in a dog cage, rarely feeding him or giving him water, and an older sister who does nothing but taunt and tease him. We also get to see a young boy with a skull for a face that seems to be the influence, or personification of the killer's desire to murder. If you've seen Found, never in a million years would you think that eventually you'd see a movie that would make you actually feel for the guy doing these horrible things. Headless is that movie.

Fear not though, gorehounds. there's still plenty of cannibalism, dismemberment, and head fucking. Director Arthur Culliper and writers Nathan Erdel and Todd Rigney seem to have captured the all too uncommon lightning in a bottle of a nice balance between story and gory. As stated, the main focus is the killer and his backstory, but there was also a bit of a plot involving one of his victims and her boyfriend, an abusive asshole. There's not a lot there, but at least we aren't just given random victim after victim, without being told anything about them, which very easily could have been the case. The effort to produce an actual movie, and not just a practical effects gorefest is what impresses the most in Headless. The ending was my absolute favorite part of the movie, it's unsettling, much in the same way that Found's ending was unsettling. The meta aspect of knowing the killer from Found was a fan of this one made me appreciate it even more. They don't mirror each other, but there's some family dynamics on display that you can definitely make a connection with, which is a nice touch.

Headless is a worthy spinoff of an already fantastic movie. While at first it may seem unnecessary, it doesn't take long to assert itself, showing that it's more than capable of standing on it's own. There's gore, nudity, cannibalism, and depravity in spades, but it also has a story to tell. I highly recommend fans of Found tracking this one down, as it adds a bit to that experience in my opinion. I'm looking forward to picking this up on dvd and popping in Found, then watching Headless in it's entirety when Marty puts the tape in, then finishing Found after. Gorehounds will eat this one up, but Headless is a special treat for those who want a little more from their splatter movie. It's a hard recommend due to the absolute sickness of it, but if you've read this far, and what I described doesn't bother scare you away, there's a lot to like here.

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