The Head Hunter (2018) – Film Review

the head hunter film review main

Director: Jordan Downey
Cast: Christopher Rygh, Cora Kaufman, Aisha Ricketts

Certificate: 15

By Roger Crow

Credibility is everything with period adventures. If the outfits look like they were bought off the peg at ‘Period Costumes R Us’, that’s the battle lost already. And even if a costume looks like it was made in that era, it also needs to look lived in.

the head hunter film review coverSo kudos to Jordan Downey, whose atmospheric medieval horror ticks all of those boxes. His world feels gritty, dangerous and lived in.


It obviously helps that his minimal cast don’t carry a lot of baggage from previous projects. Christopher Rygh is a fabulous lead who looks like a man who lived in that time, and not just because he sports a lockdown beard you could lose a kitten in.

The plot is simple: a mediaeval warrior’s gruesome collection of severed heads is missing only one – the monster that killed his daughter years ago. So it’s a quest and revenge movie in one, the staples for many a good yarn. No complex plot. Just a lean, mean adventure, with the added bonus of a gizmo that sharpens stakes. All these years of whittling wood to a fine point in period adventures when troops just needed the equivalent of a massive pencil sharpener. Genius.

The landscapes are often stunning, the art direction is splendid, and that final few minutes is sadly inevitable, and yet it still feels like a well rounded tale.

the head hunter film review bluray

“Modest budget”

It looks fabulous on Blu-ray, especially those epic vistas and gritty textures. At a mere 72 minutes, it’s just the right length, though I’d love to see Jordan Downey work on a bigger project in the same world. He’s no doubt been offered fantasy epics for major studios. It would be a crime if he hadn’t.

If you’re fascinated by how the filmmakers crafted such a gritty, gripping yarn on a modest budget, then two commentaries from the crew and a ‘making of’ featurette should leave you more than satisfied.

If this leaves you hungry for a similar adventure, track down Pathfinder, a phenomenal 1987 adventure from Nils Gaup (but give the Hollywood remake a wide berth). And if you’re a gamer, then the similar Skyrim should also appeal. If a film version of the latter is made, Jordan would be a perfect director to orchestrate the carnage.

Sound Design8
Art Direction8.5
Special Features:
• How We Made Head Hunter - Commentary with director Jordan Downey and producers Kevin Stewart and Ricky Fosheim
• Why We Made Head Hunter - Commentary with writer-director Jordan Downey and writer Kevin Stewart
• Making of featurette
The Head Hunter is released on Blu-ray by 101 Films, £12

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