Review: HEAD COUNT Doesn’t Add Up

FIRST IMPRESSION

Despite a premise that has the potential for admirably wacky mythology, Head Count turns into a disappointingly bland slasher.
Writing
Directing
Acting
Technical Merit

Head Count is a new horror film co-written and directed by Elle Callahan. It follows a group of teenagers who accidentally summon a supernatural presence that mimics their appearances in an attempt to destroy them from within while reading scary stories on a trip to the Joshua Tree desert.

This movie’s premise is wildly intriguing, hence why it is such a disappointment that the film turned out to be little more than a run-of-the-mill B-horror movie. The concept of the monster in the movie is really interesting, but not enough was done with the mythology to make you want to revisit it in a franchise form. The film should have explored the creature more naturally over time rather than delivering most of the material via a single exposition dump.

Additionally, the story doesn’t take full advantage of the premise. There are so many directions in which this movie could have gone that would have been far more interesting than what we got. For example, a whodunit-style mystery playing off of the paranoia of the characters would have been really cool to watch, but instead, the film devolves into a straightforward and simple slasher movie.

The characters aren’t much more developed than the story. Each and every one of the characters is flat and archetypal, with very little reason to sympathize with them. Perhaps the issue is that the film isn’t long enough for us to spend sufficient time with them to see past the surface-level traits they were given. Or maybe this was purposeful to show how society is becoming more and more archetypal. Regardless, the movie lacks clarity and suffers as a result.

head count car
(L-R) Bevin Bru as Camille, Isaac Jay as Evan, and Hunter Peterson as Nico in thriller HEAD COUNT. Photo courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films.

In terms of pacing, the film was very frustrating. The beginning of the movie, as we are being introduced into the world, is rather fascinating. However, once the film gets past the introduction and you realize that it won’t be going anywhere substantial with its premise, it starts to feel very slow and almost boring. Then, the big finale feels very rushed, and the movie is over. The movie really needed to have more sustained tension to work.

The actors don’t do a bad job with their characters, inhabiting the annoying archetypes which they were given rather well, but it’s hard to single out any individual performer because the film as a whole is so bland. That said, the two leads of the movie, Isaac Jay and Ashleigh Morgan, do have an admirable level of chemistry, so it would be nice to see the two of them together again in something more interesting.

The film was also mostly admirable on a technical level, although it isn’t anything special. Having a horror movie set in a desert is a welcome idea, and for the most part, it works very well. There is some great cinematography that takes advantage of the scenery of the desert in which it was shot. Additionally, when the film does eventually get gnarly, it is shot in a way that is minimalistic, but effective.

Overall, Head Count wasn’t quite what you may be hoping for. Even though the premise sounds very good on paper, it is never explored in a way that results to much more than an aggressively bland B-movie.

Head Count hits theaters and VOD on June 14.

TRENDING THIS WEEK

HBO – It’s OK.

We are proud to continue to tell stories that raise awareness and destigmatize mental health issues. If you or someone you know is in need of help, please call 1-833-HBO-NAMI or visit NAMI.org

HBO Doctor Commentaries – Girls

Clinical psychologist Dr. Ali Mattu examines real OCD vs. "I'm so OCD" in Girls. Doctor Commentaries is a part of our ongoing commitment to the awareness and destigmatization of mental health issues. If you or someone you know is in need of help, please call 1-833-HBO-NAMI or visit NAMI.org.

Liberty: Mother of Exiles (2019) | The New Colossus (Web Exclusive) | HBO

Liberty: Mother of Exiles explores the Statue of Liberty’s origins and impact on generations, and the poem engraved at the base of the famed statue embodies the values that she represents. Hear the poem come to life with Lizzo, RuPaul, Andy and more, and check out Liberty: Mother of Exiles October 17 at 9 PM…

The Righteous Gemstones: The Passing of Aimee-Leigh (Season 1 Episode 9 Clip) | HBO

May she rest in bee-free peace. #HBO #TheRighteousGemstones Subscribe to HBO on YouTube: https://goo.gl/wtFYd7 Danny McBride (Eastbound & Down, Vice Principals) returns to HBO with The Righteous Gemstones, a new comedy series that tells the story of a world-famous televangelist family with a long tradition of deviance, greed and charitable work. John Goodman, Danny McBride,…

Next on Episode 10 | On Becoming a God in Central Florida | SHOWTIME

Krystal helps Judd out of a jam. Cody (Théodore Pellerin) finds himself pulled in two directions. Bets (Beth Ditto) puts her foot down. Buck (David Paymer) and Pat (Josh Fadem) see an opportunity. Season finale. Starring Kirsten Dunst. Catch new episodes Sundays at 10/9c on SHOWTIME. #OnBecomingAGod Subscribe to the Showtime channel for more clips:…

Mayans M.C. | Season 2 Ep. 7: Tohil Preview | FX

EZ and the MC fight fire with fire, careful to not be burned in the process. Subscribe now for more Mayans M.C. clips: http://bit.ly/SubscribeFX Mayans M.C. is the next chapter in the Sons of Anarchy saga. Set in a post-Jax Teller world, EZ Reyes is a prospect in the Mayans M.C. charter on the Cali/Mexi…

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 3 – Official Trailer | Prime Video

Nominated for 20 Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series, watch the Season 3 trailer for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Season 3 premieres December 6, 2019. » The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel returns 12/06. Watch the current seasons 1 & 2 with your Prime Membership: http://bit.ly/MaiselPrimeVideo » SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/PrimeVideoSubscribe About The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: In 1958 New…

Hulu Has Live Sports ’20: The Video Game – Trailer

Play as Saquon Barkley in the greatest WATCHING football video game ever. 🎮 PLAY NOW: http://HuluHasLiveSports20.com 🎮 SUBSCRIBE TO HULU’S YOUTUBE CHANNEL Click the link to subscribe to our channel for the latest shows & updates: http://www.youtube.com/hulu?sub_confi START YOUR FREE TRIAL https://www.hulu.com/live-sports FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hulu Twitter: https://twitter.com/hulu Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hulu #HHLS20 #HuluHasLiveSports
Avatar
Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here