Here is a film that proves you don’t need a huge budget to make movie magic. Shot in Portugal on a shoestring budget of just $30,000, Jordan Downey’s acclaimed 2018 film The Head Hunter is a hauntingly minimalist horror that feels like a nightmarish bedtime story.
The tale follows a medieval bounty hunter, credited simply as Father, played by Norwegian actor Christopher Rygh. After losing his daughter Cora Kaufman in the chilling prologue to an unseen beast, he begins an obsessive quest for vengeance so that his child may finally be at peace.
Told with very little dialogue and perhaps wisely keeping most of its action offscreen considering the film’s budget, this darkly poetic 72-minute horror follows the titular warrior as he mixes elixirs, crafts weaponry and generally goes about his business in what often feels like watching somebody playing through a Skyrim quest with hyper-realistic graphics. The film is visually stunning, with impeccable production design, costume and practical creature effects that give the film a remarkable level of quality despite its miniscule budget. Credit is also due for Nick Soole’s haunting score, which contributes to the film’s twisted and foreboding atmosphere which comes to a head (pun intended) with the film’s harrowing final act.
Director Jordan Downey, who also edits and produces the film as well as co-wrote the screenplay, has crafted something very special here. If this is what he can achieve on $30,000, imagine what he could do with more. The film is truly hypnotic and compelling, pulling us into The Head Hunter’s world and taking us along for the ride on the violent, vengeful quest.
101 Films’ Blu-ray release boasts flawless picture and audio quality along with a promotional featurette and two in-depth audio commentaries that should be required listening for anyone with an interest in independent cinema. It is truly inspiring what these filmmakers could bring to life here.
The Head Hunter is one of the best and most immersive horror/fantasy films of the last few years and this new Blu-ray release from 101 Films should be considered an essential purchase.
The Head Hunter is available now on Blu-ray from 101 Films, and can be ordered direct here.