Headless Horseman (2022) Review
Headless Horseman is this year’s Halloween film from The Asylum, and I’m actually surprised they gave us this and not a supernatural slasher with a title like All Hallows Eve Ends. Instead, we have what sounds like a mashup of Ghost Rider and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
To quote the film’s press release, “When seconds from death, a nearly decapitated and desperate man makes a deal with the devil to protect the love of his life and seek revenge on the drug dealer who almost murdered him.” Why does it not surprise me that The Asylum’s lack of quality extends to its marketing department?
Angel Cregar (Ethan Daniel Corbett, Clown & Out, Blursday) is a busy man. If he’s not selling drugs he’s killing somebody for stealing from him or trying to track down Sophia (Amanda Jones, The Resonator: Miskatonic U, Nineteen Summers), the girl who broke his heart in high school. And find her he does, unfortunately for him, she’s still not interested and is engaged to Brandon (Nic Caruccio, Age of Stone and Sky: The Sorcerer Beast, The Day After Halloween). So Angel, Fleck (Sean Whalen, FP2: Beats of Rage, American Bigfoot) and their goons kill Brandon and kidnap Sophia.
“I’m a huge admirer of the original Sleepy Hollow story, and the task of updating it was a daunting one, but once I found the perfect look and feel for the movie (somewhere between Michael Mann and a superhero movie) it became much easier to tell this anti-hero on a Harley story.”Jose Prendes
They should have done a better job of it, because Brandon is still alive enough to cut a deal with Satan (Michael Paré, Bridge of the Doomed, Lockdown) who gives him a glove that looks a bit like Wolverine’s claws and the ability to turn his head into a flaming jack-o-lantern. The downside is he now needs to feed on human blood, so we can add Morbius to the list of Marvel characters Headless Horesman rips off.
Almost from the opening scene, you can tell Headless Horseman is another example of The Asylum’s sloppy style of filmmaking. The film opens with a tension-free bit of cat and mouse, followed by an offscreen stabbing. Not exactly the best way to start a horror film, is it? That’s followed by such horribly cheesy romantic scenes between Brandon and Sophia that it’s almost a relief when Angel shows up. And that bit about Brandon being nearly decapitated? He’s actually shot in the chest, so even the title Headless Horseman is bullshit.
Headless Horseman was written and directed by Jose Prendes (Blood Brothers, Corpses Are Forever) he’s the guy who wrote The Legend of La Llorona which featured Danny Trejo blowing away ghosts with a shotgun. So I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that The Headless Horseman doesn’t lose his head and has claws that can shoot death rays. Or that that’s not even the stupidest part of the film.
At times that stupidity works in the film’s favour as it becomes unintentionally amusing, as when Fleck forces a priest to exorcise Brandon to nullify his powers. But the flaming head gimmick is barely used, and never while he’s on his bike. He does get to use it like a spooky firebomb once, but the CGI predictably ruins the scene. Similarly, the claws are used more to cast death rays than to stab people, and that’s bloodlessly done.
With a rewrite or two to take advantage of these ideas and a bit more energetic direction, Headless Horseman might even have worked under a more accurate title. But way too much time is wasted on Brandon wandering through the warehouse that passes for Angel’s drug lab and killing random goons with bad CGI for the film to be anything more than occasionally amusing.