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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Review: Head Count

Director: Elle Callahan
Screenplay: Elle Callahan y Michael Nader
Year: 2019

Synopsis: A group of teenagers unknowingly summon a paranormal presence during a trip to the Joshua Tree desert. This monster mimics their appearance to hide among them and seeks to separate them in groups of five to complete its deadly ritual.

I had previously mentioned in my review of the movie “Assimilate” the curious fact of the number of horror movies that have been released recently where the identity theft topic is used. To continue to feed this fact we have “Head Count”, which comes to use as the first full-length feature of director Elle Callahan.

In "Head Count" we follow Evan when he meets a group of teenagers while he was at a park and befriends them. These teenagers accidentally awaken a creature which can manipulate its victims and make them commit suicide. The power of this creature is around the number five and it can imitate its victims or manipulate them to get them in groups of five and unleash its power.

Although this is the first full-length feature of Callahan, this director has experience working in renowned movies like "Wonder Woman" y "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and in horror movies like "Krampus" in the visual effect and editing departments. Her experience is plastered in the technical quality of "Head Count" where the limited locations are used expertly as well as the lighting to create rich and frightening scenes.

The story follows a group of ten teens and brings us a cast of talents with little acting experience. Even so, they all do a great job, achieving that the interactions between them feel real and what is expected from a group of teenagers on vacations. Particularly the dynamic between Evan and Zoe, interpreted by Isaac Jay (“Flock of Four’) and Ashley Morghan (“The Land”), respectively, who are the most important characters and the ones that spend the most time on screen, feels authentic. The plot is simple, interesting, and original, making good use of the number five symbology and it is fun looking for representations of this during the movie. The ending offers some twists that make it even more interesting.

Where “Head Count” fails is in the horror element. Once the appearance of the creature is revealed, it is not very effective at being frightening and most deaths are suggested and not shown on screen. Whit a bolder proposal regarding deaths and a more effective creature or simply showing less of it would have done well to an interesting and well-developed story.

“Head Count” is an entertaining and well-crafted horror movie that needed to take more risks with the horror elements to fit among the memorable movies group. Unfortunately, it falls short of it has to settle for being a good movie. Even so, it is a great job from debuting director Callahan, and we will have to see what she brings us in future projects and what she can do with a better budget.

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