top of page


The Head Returns

average rating is 3 out of 5


Chris Buick


Posted on:

Mar 8, 2024

Film Reviews
The Head Returns
Directed by:
James Rolfe
Written by:
James Rolfe
James Rolfe, Kirk Hart, Kevin Finn

Twenty years after a malevolent floating head, commanded by a mysterious man adorned all in black, turned a psychiatric doctor’s world upside down and landed him in an asylum, that man and that head have now returned, forcing the doctor (Rolfe) to once again face his demons and his fears in an effort to finally uncover the truth and hopefully, free himself from this nightmare once and for all.


To understand and fully appreciate The Head Returns, one must first look back to 1999, where actor/writer/director James Rolfe first introduced us to his crazy idea about an evil floating ventriloquist’s dummy’s head terrorising locals in The Head Incident. Then and there, a younger Rolfe’s initial offering which followed main characters Rick and Bob’s fight against evil was a clear labour of love that leaned more into the actual horror-ness of it all, setting out to make a fitting homage to B horror filled with grainy imagery, Ramones-esque wigs and, for the time and budget, decent practical and special effects.


Now twenty years later, the head has returned and so has Rolfe, older, wiser and more practiced, but also with that same burning passion for movies in this genre that makes The Head Returns an enjoyable watch, even if it is a bit rough around some of the edges.


The Head Incident as already stated, despite being made in 1999, had very commendable technical execution behind it for its time, so it’s clear that Rolfe’s filmmaking chops are innate. But Rolfe has clearly picked up a few more tricks since then, and it has only made him better and us luckier for it. The Head Returns offers us even better special and practical effects, better editing and better cinematography and Rolfe’s ability and clear desire to make this film look and feel as good as it can be is both applaudable and the very thing that gives it life.


But although The Head Returns does nail the look and feel while marrying itself wonderfully to the original, the storytelling seemed a bit stronger first time round than it is here. The concept is a strong one for sure, Rolfe’s doctor is still struggling to comprehend the horrors he experienced while also living with the gnawing regret of disbelieving Rick all those years ago, which speaks to deeper themes of regret and takes things in a slightly different direction this time round which can be appreciated. But while the doctor’s journey for closure and forgiveness starts and ends strong enough, it lacks any significant pace or precision or purpose in the middle where the film loses a lot of steam and needed something else to keep things moving along. However, it is nice to see the same cast come back for another round, and also to see that the performances have also improved, for the most part.


The Head Returns definitely shows that Rolfe has still got that passion and care to make films well worth a look. It works best when double billed with The Head Incident not just for some much-needed context, but to be able to see the beauty in a fun and silly idea brought to life with pure love and affection still have legs and purpose 20 years later.


Both films are available to watch and enjoy on YouTube now

About the Film Critic
Chris Buick
Chris Buick
Short Film
bottom of page