Friday, October 4, 2019

Chills & Thrills: Head Count (2018)

Movie Name/Year: Head Count (2018)
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Length: 90 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Godmother Industries, Imagination Worldwide, Samuel Goldwyn Films
Director: Elle Callahan
Writer: Elle Callahan, Michael Nader
Actors: Isaac Jay, Ashleigh Morghan, Bevin Bru, Billy Meade, Hunter Peterson, Chelcie May, Tory Freeth, Michael Herman, Amaka Obiechie, Sam Marra, Cooper Rowe, Riley Scott

Blurb from IMDb: A group of college students on a weekend getaway accidentally summon a supernatural entity intent on using them for its deadly ritual.

Selina’s Point of View:
Head Count wasn’t at all what I expected. I see a blurb like the one this has and instantly I’m thinking it’ll be the kind of film that Cabin in the Woods (2011) caricatures. I think it’s going to be jump-scare heavy, with minimal depth, and some serious stereotyping with recipe action.

Instead, I got a film that was much more on the psychological side of horror. I actually felt chills in some of the scenes.

This movie is not a ‘turn your brain off’ kind of entertainment. If you come at it from that angle, it’s going to lose a LOT. You really need to pay attention as you watch. In fact, the closer you pay attention, the more scares you’re going to feel.

There are some scenes where you can feel there’s something off; it’s not in a bad way, but within the world of the film. You can sense the danger but there’s no clear reason why. If you’re fucking with your phone or talking – you’re going to miss a lot of subtle details.

I will admit there were a few additions to Head Count that didn’t strike me as necessary. A couple of scenes and effects that didn’t really work. However, those aspects were SO small compared to how successful the story was, that I feel fine ignoring them.

Head Count is a perfect film for Halloween viewing, especially if you’re planning on watching alone or with a very small number of friends who will shut up while it’s on. Grab some popcorn and turn off the lights. The thrills are worth it.

Cat’s Point of View:
Nature treated me to a thunderstorm as I was watching Head Count, adding to the eerie ambiance and set the mood for a good horror movie.

While I did my best to put the disappointment from earlier this week behind me, I wasn’t holding my breath for something I really hadn’t heard of before. I try not to judge films based on that – the horror genre is notorious for films coming out of nowhere or even releasing straight-to-video that are actually pretty good.

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised.

If I were trying to guess based on the posters (books by the cover, I know), I was expecting that we’d be watching some sort of slasher flick. Not so.

I love that this film was a mash-up of a ‘be careful of what you say lest you summon something icky’ and internet urban legend creepiness. It made for quite the head-trip as the story progressed.

A handful of the scenes had some drawn-out awkwardness. Some might read it as strained performances by the cast of relative unknowns. I have to disagree there, however. I think it was brilliant to go with a fresh cast here where no one had preconceived expectations for them. The story set up the awkwardness all on its own and it was used as part of the tension-building as events unfolded.

I really appreciated a lot of the subtlety behind the story here. From characters to symbolism – there are so many nuanced bits that would be easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. Of course, some of the subtle elements are more straight-forward than others – such as our main character’s background. Others play on horror tropes without being overtly blatant about it. Even the title has so many layers to it once you figure out what’s going on.

While I am generally singing this movie’s praises, it wasn’t without its faults. Sometimes it was hard to distinguish what the characters were seeing in the darkness. It could have just been me – but I was having a harder time with the darker shots than I thought should be necessary. Even so, that didn’t really take me out of the movie. It ramped up the suspense for me even more because I knew less than the characters did about what was lurking around.

I adore a good creature-feature and am a fan of mind-benders so this gave a really solid dip into both worlds. Since Head Count’s horror is mostly psychological and less on the gore side, this is a great ‘starter’ horror for anyone wanting to explore a bit in the genre. I wouldn’t have any problems giving this film a recommendation.  Just be sure to pay attention and don’t blink!

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 63%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 48%
Metascore – 48/100
Metacritic User Score – 6/10
IMDB Score – 5.2/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 4/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5

Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: PG-13

Movie Trailer:

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