Review: Head Count (LA Film Festival)


Title: Head Count
Rating: NR
Director: Elle Callahan
Starring: Isaac Jay, Ashleigh Morghan, Bevin Bru, Tory Freeth
Runtime: 1 hr 30 mins

What It Is: In this horror, teenager Evan (Jay) begrudgingly sets out to join his hipster brother for a weekend out in the desert landscape when they come across a group of adventurous partying teens composed of a few couples and a single girl named Zoe (Morghan). Determined to stay with Zoe, his crush, Evan decides to hitch up with the group for a while, when suspicious events begin to occur. Soon, they all come to find themselves in the midst of a dark, demonic ritual.

What We Think: Lead Isaac Jay delivers a solid performance in this small horror flick, something that certainly gives of the impression of attempting to cater to a younger (young adult) audience in a story that feels almost like a Goosebumps novel with a darker spin, and I mean that in a positive light. Unfortunately, that’s really the only positive light I can shine upon my viewing, as I was ultimately left without any major impression. In fact, I got quite bored. While the concept has great potential and some major plot points surrounding the idea that would have worked well, all the action and suspense and drama feel too sparse between some dawdling scenes of annoying college kids, partying, and awkward relationships. The action that does occur, while some of it with fun intrigue behind their construction, left me uninterested by the time it happens. The dialogue weak, the setup slow, the characters and their interactions stiff rather than tense, and the flat visuals leave something to be desired, making me wish there was something more to look into rather than blandly delivered cliches.

Our Grade: D-, I’ll give this film some credit: again, it has potential. But as much as I hate to say it, especially about a low-budget film that still seems to try as much as this one, I believe this would have worked better as a short film had it been more precise and to the point. The scares and story would have landed with more of an impact. For now, all I’m left with was the experience of counting how many minutes were left in this movie. YET–and I advise this for most working in production–I would not discourage anyone from the creative team to stop working but instead to continue trying to improve the effort. It can only get better from here.

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