Headless is something I had a lot of excitement for, albeit not for the film itself or anything that was done in the trailers to entice me. Headless is a spin-off of another horror called .found that I enjoyed some (despite bad acting and a few jarring moments). I knew right away though that Headless would be a much different beast than what I came to love about Found, however. The grotesque and disturbed storytelling is a key-element, but it isn’t done with the same keen glee and black-humor. Found plays it straight a lot, but some of it’s so downright vile that you can’t help but smirk. Like with the end of the film, the content is so dark and raw, but never did I feel like it was done without purpose. Found had a story to tell at least. But enough about that other film, because this is about the “lost slasher film from 1978” as seen in that other film.
An homage to the classic genre that I love so much, and as much as I like that idea, that isn’t what Headless amounts to. Headless is nothing like any slasher film you’ve ever seen. It isn’t like Texas Chainsaw, Elm Street, or Friday the 13th, and it’s for the worse. The acting isn’t very well-done in this one at all. I vaguely recall some moments in Found that showed short-comings in that department as well. The father’s acting wasn’t the best. But it wasn’t that noticeable and everyone else was able to mesh well together. Specifically, the acting of the brothers was convincing and they had a certain rapport and chemistry that let them work off each other. But nobody has any chemistry in Headless. Nobody really does well in this film. The best I can say is that some actors did sub-par and not terrible, but I struggle to think of too many names that really even deserve that much acclaim. But a strong director is also very important in bringing the best performances possible out of his or her actors, and for that, Arthur Cullipher doesn’t prove himself as polished as Scott Schirmer, I don’t know what visual he was trying to make. The dialogue does nothing for the actors, and it just feels like each of them exists for the sole-purpose of being killed or chased after. Though, that’s the case with a lot of slasher films, this one does it in a very blatant way that I can’t really make you understand without just telling you to watch the film.
The film begins with a trailer that brings thoughts back to grind-house films, but classic slasher films were never grind-house, and so this film really isn’t trying to pay homage to classic slashers after all. The acting is abysmal, but the story fails doesn’t do it any favors either. The back-story for the Headless killer is both generic and one-dimensional. The character has had a bad life, but there is nothing psychological about it. No inner-workings, just the crazy family making for a crazy killer, and the thing is, there isn’t any substance added to it.
The violence is outlandish and actually feels like it can rightfully be labeled as torture porn because it means absolutely nothing and fails to entertain. A film with an 85 minute run-time and more than 8 minutes of it had to be the killer dry-humping a severed head. The stuff isn’t even as much shocking as it is comical and outlandish. Eye-balls being scraped out of their socket, amputations, necrophilia, and a sprinkling of incest, Headless would likely be deemed a disturbing film. But while it may do things that are surprising, besides that shock-value, it has nothing more to say for itself. Critics call Saw a torture-porn. But John Kramer has an elaborate reason for his existence. This film glazes over any purpose its characters could have for their existences and with characters that are cookie-cutter, it’s hard to find yourself rooting for one over the other. I found myself rooting for the credits to roll.
The end I have for you is a hollow one – .found was interesting, but Headless is not. The coming-of-age narrative about a boy and his psychotic brother has been swapped with the grotesque anomaly about a man who fucks severed heads and does nothing else at all. In the same way that Found left me pleasantly surprised with a unrelenting and in-depth film, Headless leaves me surprised with one that’s unrelenting, unpleasant, not entertaining, unambitious and shallow.