Film: The Head
Director: Jordan Downey
Writer: Kevin Stewart and Jordan Downey
Starring: Christopher Rygh and Cora Kaufman
This film was another one that I got the chance to see at the Nightmares Film Festival. I didn’t realize it until after the showing that this was the same director who did Thankskilling. What really shocked me was just how goofy and funny that film was compared to this one. To get into, the official synopsis is we follow the lonely, twisted trek of a medieval bounty hunter who seeks vengeance on the monster that killed his only daughter.
We get an emotional start to this film. Our Viking bounty hunter is Christopher Rygh. He is talking with his daughter, Cora Kaufman. She is killed by a monster and he vows to hunt monsters until he finds the one that took her life he can get his vengeance. He lives in a cabin out in the remote wilderness. I have to say that it looks absolutely amazing. That is one thing I can definitely say about this film.
He keeps himself occupied with tasks around the house. We see that he is versed in some kind of alchemy where he takes parts of different things, will strain them and keeps what he makes inside of these large jars that he keeps chained up. This is interesting, because whatever is in the jars has healing properties. It heals his wounds rapidly. He does have a job though, people in the nearby areas will fire arrows, asking him to kill different monsters that appear and they pay him for his services.
Rygh also keeps the heads of all of the beasts he kills. He keeps them spiked on the walls. There is a window in his shack though that needs mending. It continues to open and close with the wind, banging on whatever is in its way. He looks to be working on repairing it when he finally gets his wish; the monster that killed his daughter is back. He sets out to destroy it. He also learns that the liquid he creates also has more power than he realizes.
As I kind of started saying earlier, this film was much different than I had expected. I really enjoyed Thankskilling to the point that my buddy and I showed it to as many people as we could as that film was really fun. This film is much more somber.
I felt horrible for the main character as dealing with the loss of his child. There is really no dialogue, so everything we get we actually get to see. I really liked that the film established this man’s life. It almost seems like he buries himself in busy work to not have to deal with his emotions. Killing the monsters gives him an outlet to not only release his rage, but he is helping those around him. It is a dangerous way to deal with his grief, but he clearly is pretty good at it.
I will warn you that this film is a slow-burn pacing wise. It establishes his life and shows roughly what a normal day to day with him is. For budgetary reasons, we only see the aftermath of the fight scenes. I think this actually doesn’t hurt the film, because normally a film like this would really just rely on that instead of actually piecing the story together. The film has a low running time of 72 minutes, so it doesn’t really drag despite the slower story. I thought the climax and the ending of this film was really good. It is definitely an ending I really appreciated for what happens.
As for the acting of the film, it is a very small cast. We really got the father and his daughter. Rygh physically fits the character perfectly, but he also does well at bringing sadness to the role. He feels like father that is just going through the motions of his daily life and it is something that even I can connect with. Kaufman is fine as the daughter. She doesn’t really have much of a role, but she did what was needed.
The effects for the film were also pretty good in my opinion. We don’t get a lot of them, as I have stated much of what happens is off screen. The aftermath of the fights is good though and I thought they made it look realistic in the wounds that were inflicted. I thought they did a good job showing that the goop he puts on heals him much faster than normal. The creature heads we see also look good. I really liked the final creature as well. How things play out with that are quite interesting and they did well at bringing it alive.
Score for the film is also interesting, because it is a grand score. It seems a lot of a Game of Thrones in that it is more of a classic feel and very fitting for this type of film. When we are looking the amazing landscapes, it just helped in building that feeling of awe. Actually would be a score that I would revisit with as well when I’m writing.
Now with that said, I really liked this film. Normally when you get a character like this, you get films that are much more action oriented. This actually is more character building without much dialogue and a slow-burn type of film, which the acting and the pacing are good. I thought the realism that is created for this world and the setting is great. The effects are also very well done and knew exactly what they could do. I liked the twist and how the film ended, as it is fitting for the world like this as well. I’d say the score of the film is pretty solid and something I would seek out. Overall I’d say this was a good film. If you like films that are paced to build to the climax, I’d give this one a viewing, it isn’t your typical action, kill all the monsters type film.
My Rating: 8 out of 10