Star Rating: ★★★
Directed by: #ChrisO’Neill
Written by: #ChrisO’Neill
Film Reviewed by: Thomas Jay
Headshots is a 2018 film that follows a number of aspiring actors in California who, while struggling with the usual hurdles of their industry, suddenly have a serial killer in their midst.
Chris O’Neill takes a number of roles in whats his second career feature following the adaptation of one of his old shorts - Absolute Debauchery. Here I can say he’s not yet outgrown his ‘indie‘ roots (not that that is a criticism) but infused this film with incredible ambition and solid visual realisation. The films narrative is a relatively linear piece but does commit to experiment where possible by having a number of protagonists which I found kept the film rather fresh and was a necessity given how difficult the story itself was to frame to the audience. Anyway, the plot concerns Jamie (Nika Khitrova), a classically trained British actor who moves to LA in order to kickstart her A List career, only to fall victim to the murderous photographer. Oh it robs and by extension, her character Jamie is by far the films shining light. Though she has no more than 35-40 minutes of total screen time, she easily handled being the audiences viewfinder to quite a good standard and really helped me get fully immersed into the world. The rest of the cast, though not doing too badly just failed to capture the heights of her outing. Jamie’s housemate Laura (Dani Savka) struck a real chemistry with the lead and has her own compelling side arc which was sadly overlooked in the bigger picture sense.
Just to briefly return to the narrative for a second, the reveal in my opinion came a bit too soon. I did enjoy that almost cold opening and I felt it set precedent for what came after, though it does slow a bit to let Jamie and fellow characters be introduced, but the almost vignette/loose anthology approach was really engaging and the merging of perspectives was certainly something which one, I didnt really expect but two felt like it really added something to what could’ve been a detrimentally generic outing. I did enjoy the revenge aspect also if I were to be completely honest - I had no real expectations for the final half of the film but was entertained by the Donovan Siblings though again, if it were to have maximum impact shouldn’t have been lessened by the early reveal of the the killers identity. Speaking of that reveal, for as much as there were some clear identifying aspects, in particular the photography setup/back drop, the red herrings that were thrown around really had me questioning the role of certain characters. Looking back the reveals would’ve been terrible but there were some genuinely unsettling and suspicious ‘cameos’ from the supporting cast.
To just put the gushing on the plot aside for a second, I really enjoyed the score and films music. It channelled Candyman’s ‘Music Box’ theme and overall, it continued to be a similar standard and really horror-like. Other than that, however, I found the film didn’t really provide much entertainment.
Aside from our pseudo-lead, the supporting cast don’t really turn in any performances of note and sort of let the side down, for as much as it was an interesting take having two killers who were in a relationship, their personalities and character were incredibly shallow and seemed as if they were created after a game of ‘crutch bingo’ just selecting tropes that would make them come off as unhinged. The cinematography was largely poor, especially when it opted to Don a haze effect round the edges of the picture. In the best ways possible, Headshots is a ‘B Movie’ and sort of knows it, I don’t mean it unfairly but it was a bit shoddy in quality. I wanted more but just felt it failed to deliver. A fairly well-made piece, I’d recommend a watch if you were interested in this type of ‘revenge movie’ but it’s not essential viewing.
Reviewed by: #TomJay