Accomplishing so much with such a small budget, ‘The Head Hunter’ begins as an intimate episode in the life of a lone wanderer who seeks the monster that killed his daughter; a medieval escape for the viewer that evolves into a gory horror chiller by the end.
The impressive visuals belie the $30,000 budget. We’re afforded grand landscapes, detailed sets and costumes, and an assortment of creature head trophies that tease a fully realised fantasy realm. And even though we’re confined to the perspective of one vengeful, bounty hunting warrior who works on the outskirts of a local kingdom, writer-director Jordan Downey makes us believe that there’s a whole lot going on beyond its stunning backdrops.
Due to budget limitations, most of the violence is off screen, and despite the initial disappointment when you realise you won’t be seeing some epic monster duels like in The Witcher franchise, an outstanding sound design makes up for it. Every guttural screech, every sword blow, every decapitation, and every thunderous stomp from a troll just out of view can be pictured due to the high quality of the sound effects; and it’s clear that most of the budget was saved for the final confrontation when something evil rears itself from a place of darkness; a finale that tests our armour-clad hero as he strives to add one last trophy to his collection.
You can almost imagine this taking place in the world of The Elder Scrolls. Think Skyrim with some Evil Dead reanimated carnage thrown into the mixer, and the result churned out is bloody and satisfying. The production values are terrific, and with excellent lighting and cinematography, this is an experience that’s easy to admire and praise from a technical standpoint.
Yes the story is on the thin side and it drags slightly in the middle, but for a 70-minute fantasy horror that finds ways around its restrictions relating to action while consistently engaging you visually, you can’t really complain. And the final image is haunting.
Score – 7.5/10