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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The Head Hunter (2018)



The Head Hunter is set in vaguely Nordic fantasy world populated with all sorts of monsters. Our character, and for most of the movie the only character we see, is simply known as father. His life is hunting monsters and killing them. Thru a series of flashbacks and grave visits we discover that his daughter was killed by a monster and that he has been hunting for it ever since. Along the way he answers the horn, which blows frequently, that summons him for another mission. Eventually this brings him back to the creature that killed his child and he successfully slays it, ready to hang it with his other trophies. But something bad happens and things get messy.

I want to keep my plot synopsis vague because I really enjoyed this movie and don’t want to spoil anything. The plot is simple and straightforward, while at the same time extremely engaging. For most of the movie we see the results of his hunting but not the fight. The horn echoes and he leaves with the next scene him returning with a bag containing the noggin’ of the unfortunate monster that crossed his path. The rest of the time is him going about his business of fixing up his isolated cabin, visiting his daughter’s grave, and using some concoction he mixes up to heal himself of the wounds he gets from his many fights.

I’m not sure why but I was fascinated by what should have been rather slow and mundane things aspects of his day. I suppose it was partly due to how they parse the story and background of the character out slowly and keep hinting that there is going to be a big payoff at the end. Which there is, but not what you would expect and that is another reason I love The Head Hunter. It keeps messing with the audience’s expectations which is great. The filmmakers manage to walk that tightrope of keeping the viewer off balance and engaged at the same time. No matter what was on screen I needed to know what happened next to Father.

I love how gritty and lived in this world feels.
The sets, armor, and monsters (again mostly just the heads on the wall) are pulled off incredibly well. They look lived in and if you watch closely the armor shows more wear and tear as the movie progresses. The filmmakers pay close attention to detail and as a viewer who has been accused of being somewhat picky about those sorts of things, I very much appreciated it. The latex heads hanging on the wall are beautifully made and look lifelike. The one big monster fight we get at the end is shot well and exciting. Honestly this movie is damn near perfect!

I guess my only complaint is the ending, which I did not like. Again, I’m going to keep the spoilers at a minimum, so all I can say is that it isn’t necessarily a bad way to end the story of Father. I just liked the character so much I wish it had been different. In the end this is one of the finest independent movies I’ve seen in the last twenty years. I’m not exaggerating about this. The Head Hunter is my new gold standard for making movies with next to no budget. This movie feels like they had a million dollars but in reality, the budget was only about thirty thousand. How the hell did they pull this off? Bravo guys and if it isn’t clearly obvious yet I’m highly recommending this one.


© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer 

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