Heads-A-Poppin'! - Short Film Review

★★

Written & Directed by: #JamesRaynor

Starring: #GraceBlackman, #LillyDriscoll, #DavidSeymour, #RobertLowe, #PaulAusten

Short Film Review by Taryll Baker

Poster for Heads-A-Poppin'!

Ellie is a young woman at her wits' end. Unlucky in love and undervalued at work, her frustrations with life lead her to discover her uncanny talent for exploding skulls. Initially happening during outbursts of anger, soon her abilities began to spiral out of control and the heads begin a-poppin' left and right.


James Raynor’s Heads-A-Poppin’! is an experimental film of sorts that plays around with various genres and presents itself as a fairly cheap project. This is a film that’s clearly trying to cater to an audience or very specific genre, but it’s not exactly obvious what that is. Consisting of wacky characters and an “edgy” style, Heads-A-Poppin’! follows a woman who believes herself to be an “X-person.”


The rough look and feel of this short really cheapens the experience. It’s clearly supposed to be taken lightly since all the performances are woefully exaggerated, and the animated title sequence and funky music set that tone pretty early on. The unfortunate part is that Heads-A-Poppin’! doesn’t really seem to have much purpose beyond some outrageous lines of dialogue played for laughs, and the comic-like violence thrown in for good measure. None of the characters are very likeable or even interesting at the lowest level, which makes anything that is happening in the story just… underwhelming.


There are some key moments that work. It’s mainly due to the strangeness of the situation, and the more realistic approach to it. The events that unfold following the mid-way point make Raynor’s vision more clear; his way of tackling the superhero slash super villain concept is mildly amusing, but again, there doesn’t seem to be much purpose and therefore everything becomes dry. Too much of a good thing can be detrimental, and that’s the case here. The same can be said for the miserable visual effects which, understandably so, are pretty poor. At least they spent enough time with make-up to make the aftermath of the gruesome incidents seem more real.


On the plus side, I think Heads-A-Poppin’! was respectfully as long as it needed to be. Any more heads spontaneously exploding would have driven it off the road to become incredibly tiresome. The direction is quite good given the script and ridiculous nature of the film. This feels like a bit of a passion project for Raynor, and that’s evident in all its trappings. Elements of comedy, horror and drama are swiftly thrown together and while it doesn’t land the whole way through, there are small periods of the film that are enjoyable. To put it in a plainer light; if you have 35 minutes to spare, you could find a lot worse than Heads-A-Poppin’!, but perhaps searching a little longer for a film will help quench your thirst.


Watch the trailer for Heads-A-Poppin'! below.

- #TaryllBaker