A decade after making waves in the horror community with the intentionally cheesy Thankskilling, director Jordan Downey, along with his writing partner Kevin Stewart are back with another micro-budget horror film, only this time, the film takes itself seriously, and manages to be pretty compelling. So let’s take a closer look at The Head Hunter!
Beauty in Simplicity
Following a brief dream/flashback to a time when his daughter was alive, we quickly learn everything we need to know about our protagonist and only real character in the film. Simply credited as “Father” (Christopher Rygh), our main character has spent years hunting monsters and collecting their heads, all while trying to find the one that killed his daughter years ago.
Plotwise, The Head Hunter is pretty straightforward, but the film truly shines in its execution. Because we only primarily deal with one character, we get a real sense of his isolation that he himself must also feel. Collecting these heads seems to be his life’s only purpose. His tragedy is that, despite surviving his daughter, he really isn’t living at all, which is the exact opposite of what a loved one would have wanted for him.
Using its Budget to its Advantage
Horror is one of the only genres of film in which a film can thrive despite having (and sometimes because of having) a low budget. As massive tent pole franchise films dominate the film industry, many horror films wear their budget as a badge of honor, and defiantly demonstrate how the filmmakers’ limited resources forced them to be all the more creative and ingenious.
And in the case with The Head Hunter, it felt more genuine by using existing locations such as a real medieval castle exterior and a 200 year old grain mill, where we spend much of the film.
Other than that, we mostly see the Father in forests, woods, and fields in beautifully sweeping shots of cinematography. Each monster head that he claims are also brilliant pieces of practical effects work, and were reportedly all made by director Jordan Downey, and his crew of fewer than 5 people.
Overall, The Head Hunter makes for a an entertaining watch, and serves as an even bigger inspiration to other independent filmmakers. It demonstrates that just because a film is very low budget, it need not show it, and even something like medieval horror isn’t off limits to a micro-budget production!
The Head Hunter is streaming exclusively on Shudder!