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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Review: The Head Hunter

Director: Jordan Downey
Screenplay: Kevin Stewart and Jordan Downey
Year: 2019

Synopsis: A vicious medieval warrior hunts the monsters that menace humanity and collect their heads. In his gruesome collection, there is just one head missing, the one from the monster that killed his daughter years back.

After directing movies where horror and comedy are intertwined like “Critters: Bounty Hunter” or “ThanksKilling”, Jordan Downey returns to the director’s chair to bring a product substantially different from those before mentioned. The product at hand is “The Head Hunter”, a movie that mixes topics of medieval warriors reminiscent of movies like “Lord of the Rings”, with the topic of monster hunters reminiscent of video games such as “Monster Hunter”, “The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim”, or “Dark Souls”.

One of the most interesting aspects of this movie is how Downey uses minimalism as a base to elaborate it. Not much lines of dialogues, few characters, clean and desaturated visuals, and even a short runtime (72 minutes) exemplify the use of this technique. While many of these elements are synonym of a tight budget, the reality is that they are superbly used to create a cold and desolate atmosphere and give more depth to the principal character and his conditions. To continue with minimalist, we don't even get to know the name of the principal character.

Since dialogues and other characters are scarce, the weight of moving the plot falls solely on the character of or anonymous monster hunter. This character is interpreted by Christopher Rygh, who seems to have a weakness for this type of characters, as he has appeared in the series “The Last Kingdom” and will be appearing in the movie “Medieval” later this year. Rygh does an exceptional work interpreting this character, an accomplishment validated by the awards he has won as best actor for this role in movie festivals. This character evokes primitive violence and Rygh transmits this message clearly, as well as his moments of suffering, grief, and rage.

The other base in which the foundations of this movie are established is revenge. During approximately the first half of the movie, we see the suffering of the hunter because of the loss of his daughter and the few lines of dialog in the movie are around this topic. Finally, the monster that took her life roams the area around where the hunter lives, and he prepares for his awaited revenge. Although the movie has plenty of gore, it is worth mentioning that most of the fights between the hunter and the monsters take place off-screen. This is probably a budget limitation but is preferable instead of crappy digital effects or costumes that can ruin a great story.

“The Head Hunter” is another movie that shows that a good product can be delivered with an adjusted budget if you are creative enough. With very little, they manage to create a rich ambient and a character to be interested in, although most of the merit for this is due to the interpretation. Even when there are some unnecessary parts, as some landscape montage or some repetitive situations that seem to be thrown in to increase the runtime, “The Head Hunter” is surprisingly entertaining, is very well developed for its budget and the ending took me by surprise.

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