I’ve been a bit too long in posting this review. Perhaps it’s simply because, after viewing HEADER a few times, I was still unsure as to what to say about it. I’m gonna call this a half-n-halfer because I liked half the film, but the other half seemed like it should’ve been a different movie altogether, much to the detriment of the other.
On one side we have so many things I could ask for in a horror flick. Just out of jail, Travis Clyde Tuckton (Elliot V. Votek) seeks a place to stay with his crazy, half toothless, wheelchair-bound granpappy, Jake Martin (Dick Mullaney). With no job or prospects, Travis gets to spend a good deal of time with ‘ol Jake, talkin’ about the good ‘ol days when the old man brings up an old family tradition…a HEADER! What’s a “header” you may ask? Well, I’ll tell ya …SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER… a header involves an electric, rusty-ass, blood-caked bone saw (I suppose they used a regular handsaw or hatchet in the old days), a nubile young farm girl, and a BRAIN FUCKIN’! That’s right, these good ‘ol boys have a way of getting revenge that surpasses all other means of revenge. Whenever they think someone’s done ‘em wrong, the worst possible thing they can do to get revenge is to get a young girl of the offending family, knock her out, cut the top of her head off, and litterally fuck her brains out. HOLY SHIT! you might be sayin’. Yeah, that’s about what I said too. Fuckin’ crazy. Anyway, these two yokels start thinkin’ about all the different families that’ve wronged ‘em and go after young ladies of said clan and proceed to perform a HEADER on ‘em. After a while, Travis just starts lookin’ for girls at random to do it to as I guess he’s bored. The best part of the film is a touching moment of bonding between grandfather and grandson as Travis helps the old man do his own, er, headin’.
The whole movie could’ve been about this and I would’ve been fairly happy with it. But nooooo, they had to throw in some bullshit about an ATF agent, Stewart Cummings (Jake Suffian) and his “sickly” girlfriend. Turns out, to pay for all of her expensive prescriptions (we’re not certain what the hell’s wrong with her), he’s had to turn dirty, runnin’ interference for drug dealers and eventually runnin’ drugs himself. He’s not a bad man, just a bad ATF agent. Ok, more SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS. Ok, well, he gets involved with local police when they come across one of the HEADER victims and he can’t leave it alone. He starts his own investigation (which leads him to cross paths flimsily with the HEADER boys in an attempt to tie the two stories together). He finds out what a HEADER is, finds out who a shoeprint belongs to because granpappy Jake makes custom boots, and makes his way out to the cabin to find the two ‘ol boys in the act of a good, old fashioned HEADER party. Needless to say, he blows ‘em away. I mean, what else could he do, he had just come from blowing away the drug dealers he’d been runnin’ for in a double-cross, takin’ a metric shit-ton (or would it be tonne if it’s metric…um…) of money so he could finally take care of all his girl’s problems. Afterwards, needless to say, things spiral ever downward into deeper shit climaxing in a crazy ending I actually kinda liked.
So, we know which half I liked and which half I could’ve done without seein’. Based on an Edward Lee novella I’d never read, the author himself said he thought it was a story that could never have been brought to the medium of film. He was right…it was brought to video. I understand it was an independent effort, but, I mean, come on guys, you could’ve made a little bit of an effort to make the flick more, well, cinematic. Plenty of indie flicks are shot on video, and most of them suck, but some of them cut through that problem by finding fantastic actors, a better story, and better directorial talent. It feels so harsh to say it because I LOVE independent filmmaking, especially independent HORROR filmmaking (at least when it’s not a certain…OTHER…indie flick I’ve reviewed here that garnered quite a bit of heat). It’s not complete trash, I actually liked half of it, like I said, and I’d suggest it to others who wanted to see something really fucked up, but I cannot fully put the Backwoods Horror gash of approval on this one for reasons mentioned above. That’s not to say I wouldn’t like to see more from Archibald Flancranstin (Jeebus, that’s a mouthful…yes…that’s what she said) and MPYREAL Entertainment. I believe they’ve got the makin’s of an interesting indie filmmaking troupe and I look forward to their next, hopefully, HORROR outing. I also salute SYNAPSE for distributing indie horror. Keep ‘em comin’! 2 out of 5 skulls.