The Head Hunter (2018) – Film Review
Director: Jordan Downey
Cast: Christopher Rygh, Cora Kaufman, Aisha Ricketts
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.
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.
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.
• 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