July 31, 2006

Headhunter (2005)
Xenon Entertainment

90 mins. · Not Rated
Letterboxed · 1.78:1

Format
DVD

Audio
English – DD 5.1

Subtitles
None

Extras
Trailer

Starring
Ben Parillo, Mark Aiken, Kristi Clainos

Review by
Felix Gonzalez, Jr.


Rating



(2005)

"The best way to get ahead in business is to keep your own!" So reads the tagline for "Headhunter," a low-budget horror film from Xenon Entertainment. Like most direct-to-DVD shockers, this one is pretty ridiculous and, worst of all, not the least bit scary. Directed by Paul Tarantino (no relation to Quentin), this movie has all the ingredients of typical schlock, from the bad acting to the corny twist ending.

Ben Caruso (Ben Parillo) is looking for a better job. One of his clients (Mark Aiken) recommends Sarah Tierney (Kristie Clainos), a corporate headhunter who may be able to find Ben a new position. She lands him a job working the graveyard shift at an office where his co-workers exhibit the strangest behavior. Every night, Ben rides up the elevator with a man who faces the corner and utters nothing at all. A janitor walks down a hallway only to vanish into thin air. And a menacing voice baits Ben over the intercom. You would think these signs would be enough to send Ben running out the door, but for some reason he stays on, putting a strain on his relationship with girlfriend Donna (Lindsay Stoddart).

It doesn't take too long for us to learn that Sarah Tierney is, in fact, quite literally a headhunter. Decapitated 10 years earlier, Sarah is a ghost who now haunts the office building and lures young men into her web in hopes that they will locate her missing head so that she may be at peace. As her latest victim, Ben must do as she requests or else give up his own head, as well as Donna's.

Paul Tarantino never takes the film too seriously, infusing it with a fair degree of dark humor, but even this does not save it from being a total bore. The pacing is awful, and the plot meanders so frequently that I found myself wondering if this was still a horror movie. Then there's the makeup. Let's just say I've seen Halloween masks at discount stores that were more convincing. The acting fairs no better. Kristi Clainos' line readings are excruciatingly wooden and amateurish, and Ben Parillo runs the emotional gamut from A to A-. You can't even enjoy the movie as camp, as everything is so poorly done that it just comes across as pathetic.

Xenon Entertainment has delivered a rather lackluster release for the film, offering it in a non-anamorphic widescreen image. It appears to be close to 1.78:1, though the aspect ratio is not labeled on the package. Black levels fluctuate between acceptable and atrocious, with many scenes appearing washed out and faded. There is quite a bit of grain, and colors look extremely harsh and overly saturated, leaving skin tones an orangey hue.

Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, but it is somewhat muffled, making dialogue difficult to understand at times. The surround sound is not well-utilized, and sound effects seem to be jumbled together with no real definition. No subtitles are available.

The only special feature is a trailer. Viewers are not even given a chapter selection.

"Headhunter" is, quite simply, a terrible excuse for a horror movie. There is no tension, no wit, no sense, and no point. The film is never even as gruesome as you would like it to be, considering the subject matter. A feature like this could only have been made independently, as any major producer in his right mind would run screaming from it. Viewers are strongly encouraged to do the same. The only thing terrifying about this movie is the prospect of actually sitting through it.

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