The Head Hunter – USA, 2018: updated with another review

The Head Hunter – formerly The Head – is a 2019 American fantasy horror feature film directed by Jordan Downey (ThanksKilling and ThanksKilling 3; short: Craw Lake) from a screenplay co-written with Kevin Stewart. The Detention Films production stars Christopher Rygh.

Plot:

On the outskirts of a kingdom, a quiet but fierce medieval warrior protects the realm from monsters and the occult. His gruesome collection of heads is missing only one – the monster that killed his daughter years ago. Driven by a thirst for revenge, he travels wild expanses on horseback, using sorcery to aid in his quest. When his second chance arrives, it’s in a way far more horrifying than he ever imagined…

Release:

The Head Hunter premiered at the Sitges Film Festival in 2018, and played at Fantasporto in Portugal this year. Vertical Entertainment will release the movie in select US theaters and on VOD from April 5, 2019.

Reviews:

“While the midsection of the film sort of wanders, ponders, and nearly squanders its wonderful premise, the conclusion of The Head Hunter redeems itself as one of the most undeniably memorable moments. Not only does the scintillating showdown between Father and Troll wholly satisfy in precisely the manner you’d hope for, the final shot of the film goes one step beyond to leave us breathless with one lasting nihilistic gut-punch.” Jack Dee, Arrow in the Head

“Brutal, bloody, gnarly and atmospheric as can be, The Head Hunter is medieval horror gold, as well as one of the coolest and craziest horror movies I’ve seen in a long time. This is the kind of gem horror fans live to discover.” John Squires, Bloody Disgusting review

“Photography, editing, and sound design are so razor sharp they can practically cut eyes as well as ears, proving Jordan Downey definitely knows how to make a polished picture. If only they had meatier material in the script to play with, The Head Hunter wouldn’t be emblematic of a short film idea forcibly stretched into a feature-length production.” Ian Sedensky, Culture Crypt review

“It’s only towards the end that we get to the meat, literally and figuratively, of the Viking’s revenge. That being said, there’s still a lot to appreciate here, even if a lot of the “action” is relegated to watching the Viking prepare his healing elixir – it’s rather gross – or take care of chores around his home.” Jonathan Barkan, Dread Central review

“… proves that these gentlemen can make a lean and mean little creature feature without being silly or campy about it […] The Head exists in its own universe alongside some of the greatest horror/fantasy epics of the modern era. I would personally love to see this universe expanded and I think it has that kind of potential.” Andy Breslow, Fear Forever review

“There is very little dialogue and no narration to fill the viewer in on the warrior’s actions. But that only adds to the somber tone of the film. The terrific score, creature effects, and beautiful landscape (shot on location in Portugal) do a tremendous job keeping the audience hooked and propelling the action forward.” Shawn Pacheco, Horror Geek Life review

With its grubby, lived-in production design, its astonishing, desaturated locations and its  perfectly sustained intensity of mood, Jordan Downey’s film is like Trollhunter (2010) mixed with Valhalla Rising (2009) […] All this makes a simple-seeming, almost one-handed, nearly dialogue-free film resonate deeply with a complicated and disturbing subtext. Atmospheric as all hell, too.” Anton Bitel, Projected Figures review

“Downey and his skeleton crew succeed in making the most out of the film’s low budget, thanks to the film’s wonderful visual design and beautiful cinematography work that makes the most of the impressive views and scenery. But despite all its achievements, The Head ultimately fails to fulfill its promise because, simply, the script is not good enough.” Guillem Rosset, Screen Anarchy review

Filming locations:

  • Mammoth Lakes, California
  • Norway
  • Portugal

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