Genre : Horror-Thriller
Rating : Unrated
Director: Elle Callahan
With summer break just beginning a reluctant Evan (Isaac Jay) heads to Joshua Tree to spend the weekend with his estranged brother Peyton (Cooper Rowe). Meeting a group of other twenty-somthings he captures the eye of photographer Zoe (Ashleigh Morghan). With sparks beginning to fly between the two Evan accepts an invitation to party with Zoe and her friends, leaving Peyton behind. As the night wears on and the drinks continue to flow they all settle around a fire and tell scary stories around a campfire. Without a story of his own Evan goes online and finds a poem entitled Hisji. As he reads it to his new friends he accidentally unleashes a deadly being unlike anything he could ever dream of.
The latest in the quickly growing Creepypasta-based movie subgenre writer-director Elle Callahan deviates from the norm by creating her own urban legend. A mix of The Babadook and The Thing, the Hisji is a humanoid that can shape shift and look like other people. Slowly infiltrating groups of five it ritualistically stalks them before forcing them to commit suicide. Callahan and co-writer Michael Nader give audiences just enough of the Hisji’s lore to keep audiences hooked. A similar level of care can be seen behind the camera.
Stylishly capturing the desolate California desert in her feature debut Elle Callahan shows a technical skill that belies her time behind the camera. Despite Head Count‘s limited budget Callahan is able to deliver some blockbuster scares with things as simple as camera tricks or gradually building tension to its breaking point. She possesses the kind of skills that lull audiences into a false sense of security from a drunken game of Never Have I Ever and turn it into one of the best jump scares of the year. It’s a talent doesn’t necessarily extend to other aspects of the film.
As interesting as Head Count can be on a technical level it stumbles as an actual story. Although performed well by Isaac Jay, Evan can feel unbearable at times. Either afraid or angst-ridden for the majority of Head Count the only time Evan shows any real life is when he is with Zoe. Portrayed by Ashleigh Morghan (Snowfall, The Land) she is able to bring a cheeriness out of Evan that is sorely missing most of the movie. The second-too-long stares, the awkwardness around your significant other’s friends, Jay and Morghan do a marvelous job capturing the awkward yet magical feeling you get when you fall for someone. The same can’t be said of the rest of the supporting cast. For the most part Zoe’s posse, while well performed, come off as beyond cliché. Whether it’s the alpha male Max or the constantly stoned Nico they feel more like Degrassi extras than actual characters.
The other thing holding Head Count back is the film’s lack of budget. Not to say you necessarily need Avengers money to make a good film but Head Count clearly had some pretty big ambitions for its third act. After meticulously crafting a creeping, subtle terror it rushes as fast as it can to the finish line leaving as much chaos in its wake as it can muster. Culminating with a less than impressive CG Hisji it feels out of place in a movie that felt so deliberate in its choices before. It doesn’t necessarily ruin the film but it makes for a jarring change of pace.
As a film, Head Count is a step above most of its contemporaries. With an intriguing lore for the Hisji and a skillful hand behind the scenes, Elle Callahan’s first feature shows that the director has a lot of potential. So does that make Head Count a good movie? Not quite. Despite being good on a technical level an indie level budget, paper thin characters and a too predictable sequel hook hurt the film to outright recommend. But if it’s any indication of Callahan’s future then her next film Witch Hunt, now in pre-production, should be one to look out for. Just don’t go in a group of five.
Links : IMDB
Head Count is now on VOD and in select theaters
Easy To Survive Five Nights At Freddy’s
Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Lail, Kat Conner Sterling, Piper Rubio, Mary Stuart Masterson and Matthew Lillard
Directed by: Emma Tammi
Written by: Scott Cawthon, Emma Tammi and Seth Cuddeback
Based on the video game series by: Scott Cawthon
Produced by: Jason Blum and Scott Cawthon
Executive Producers: Bea Sequeira, Russell Binder, Marc Mostman and Christopher H. Warner
Chica and Mr Cupcake from Five Nights at Freddy’s (Universal Pictures)
Recently fired and desperate for work so that he can keep custody of Abby, Mike agrees to take a position as a night security guard at an abandoned theme restaurant: Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria. But Mike soon discovers that nothing at Freddy’s is what it seems. With the aid of Vanessa, a local police officer, Mike’s nights at Freddy’s will lead him into unexplainable encounters with the supernatural and drag him into the black heart of an unspeakable nightmare.
Movie Review (No Spoilers)
The movie takes its inspiration from the Five Nights At Freddy’s videogame series and the franchise of the same name. The franchise currently consists of a total of 20 video games (10 main games, 6 spin-offs, and 4 troll games), a total of 48 books (3 novel books, 21 anthology books, 8 graphic novels, 5 guidebooks, 3 coloring books, and 8 other books), as well as a horror attraction, Snapchat lenses, this movie, and an ongoing batch of merchandise.
We see Josh Hutcherson and Elizabeth Lail’s play the part of Mike Schmidt and Officer Vanessa Shelly respectively. They played their parts well and their performance definitely contributes to the dramatic effects within the movie. The story was nicely adapted from the narrative in the video games. Being familiar with the video games I expected Five Nights at Freddy’s to be filled to the brim with jump scares. Sadly, the jump scares were quite infrequent and there is definitely a lack of gory scenes, leaving you with the feeling that the animatronics might not be that scary at all. The animatronics were well designed.
The movie successfully delivers a plot twist at the end. The story ends in such a way that you can expect a sequel and I hope that if we get to experience another night at Freddy’s that we get to experience an even greater scare.
I rate this movie a 3 out of 5 based on expectations. As a fan of the game series you will definitely enjoy this because this movie takes a lot of the Five Nights At Freddy’s lore into account with a few variations.
I personally feel the trailer delivers a bit of a scare, however it reveals a little bit too much information about the story. There is a mid-credits scene and a potential secret audio message at the end of the credits. Feel free to stick around.
The Exorcist: Believer Review
The Exorcist Films
The Exorcist (1973)
Regan, a young girl, displays bizarre behaviour after playing with an Ouija board. Chris, her mother and an actress, consults two priests who conclude that Regan is possessed by a demonic entity.
Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
A priest is tasked with probing the death of another priest who died while exorcising a girl four years ago. However, the latter does not remember the incident and is under the care of a psychiatrist.
The Exorcist III (1990)
Lieutenant Kinderman sets out to investigate a series of brutal murders with the trademark of a serial killer, The Gemini. However, he uncovers disturbing facts which leave him troubled.
Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)
While doing missionary work in Africa, Father Lankester Merrin comes across a boy who is behaving strangely. Further investigation reveals that he is possessed by an ancient demon.
Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005)
Father Lankester Merrin has his first encounter with a demon when a church is excavated from beneath the sand. Soon, he discovers several signs of devil worship inside the church.
The Exorcist: Believer
When his daughter, Angela, and her friend Katherine, show signs of demonic possession, it unleashes a chain of events that forces single father Victor Fielding to confront the nadir of evil. Terrified and desperate, he seeks out Chris MacNeil, the only person alive who’s witnessed anything like it before.
Movie Review (No Spoilers)
The movie doesn’t rush too quickly into the dramatic aspects of the film. It really provides a different feel to that of the predecessors. Olivia O’Neil and Lidya Jewett really brought their A-game and I really appreciated their performance. As always, the possessed voices are always done excellently. There is a treat for longstanding fans of the Exorcist movies with the return of Ellen Burstyn who returns as Chris MacNeil, which was teased in the movie trailer as well. The soundtrack along with the use of strategically placed jump scares contributed to the overall scare, however, most of the massive scares are closer to the end of the movie. I recommend watching the other Exorcist-related movies to really have the background. A lot of effort was done in the make-up, special effects and with the religious elements that have been factored into the movie.
Just a word of caution though, this movie is not for the faint-hearted and sensitive viewers.
There is no post-credits scene at the end, so no need to wait till the end. The official trailer I feel gives away a lot of the movie in terms of some of the plots, so watch perhaps the movie before watching the trailer. I rate this movie a 3.5 out of 5. Really looking forward to future projects in the Exorcist film series but I really hope they can deliver a scary surprise in a future sequel.
Catch it at a cinema near you!
Night Swim | Official Trailer — In Theaters January 5th, 2024
Release Date: 5 January 2024
Director: Bryce McGuire
Writer: Bryce McGuire
Based on: Night Swim, short film by Rod Blackhurst and Bryce McGuire
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Production Companies: Atomic Monster and Blumhouse Productions
Cast: Wyatt Russell, Kerry Condon, Amélie Hoeferle & Gavin Warren
Night Swim Movie Poster (Universal Pictures)
No running. No diving. No lifeguard on duty. No swimming after dark.
Ray Waller, a former major league baseball player forced into early retirement by a degenerative illness, moves into a new home with his concerned wife Eve, teenage daughter Izzy and young son Elliot. Secretly hoping, against the odds, to return to pro ball, Ray persuades Eve that the new home’s shimmering backyard swimming pool will be fun for the kids and provide physical therapy for him. But a dark secret in the home’s past will unleash a malevolent force that will drag the family under, into the depths of inescapable terror.
Catch the trailer online now!
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