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Review: HEAD COUNT (2018) – Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival 2018

Elle Callahan has racked up credits in various behind the scenes roles on quite a few films over the past few years, including KRAMPUS and AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON. Now with HEAD COUNT she makes her debut as a feature director. It’s an enjoyable and promising, if not entirely successful, debut.

Evan (Isaac W. Jay) is spending time with his older brother Peyton (Cooper Rowe). Evan is a college student who likes to party, Peyton is a straight edge type into crystals and living in a trailer in the desert. So when they come across a group of other students on a hike, and Evan hits it off with Zoe (Ashleigh Morghan) he’s more than happy to ditch his brother for some new friends.

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Things take a sinister turn however when a drunken game of reading random stories off of a Creepypasta type website manages to summon a Hisji, a shape-shifting demon whose power revolves around the number five.

HEAD COUNT has a lot of going for it, especially some excellent characterizations. The awkwardness between Evan and Zoe is much more realistic than the usual meet cute/ instantly bond scenario we see in films like this. The same with the group’s response to Evan, especially once things start getting weird.

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The film also makes great use of its limited budget. It makes good use of its limited interior locations and makes nice choices for the exteriors it uses. My one complaint here is instead of eventually showing so much of the Hisji, (it isn’t particularly scary), they’d put that money into better death scenes. Though the film does have a PG-13/Blumhouse feel to it so they may have wanted to keep the gore factor down. There is a nice wrist slitting scene, so it’s not entirely dry.

I also wish more had been done with the creature’s need to get its victims into groups of five. There are some good scenes as it imitates its victims to manipulate it’s the survivors, but there was much more that could have been done with the idea.

Overall, though, HEAD COUNT is an enjoyable, if not exactly game changing film. It’s currently on the festival circuit and worth seeing if it plays near you.

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