July 1, 2012

Filthy Review - Headspace

Headspace (2005)

Review by Jude Felton

Director Andrew Van Den Houten is probably best known in his capacity as Producer, for films such as the terrific The Woman and the excellent film adaptation of The Girl Next Door. Back in 2005 though he was calling the shots on this curious horror film, which is now released with the Director’s Cut. I won’t however be making any comparisons between this version and the original, instead I will just focus on this cut.

The film follows Alex, who’s a bit of a wet blanket, who spends his free time playing chess in the park. He’s not exactly Garry Kasparov though, and finds himself losing over and over again. Things begin to change for Alex though when he inexplicably finds himself becoming noticeably smarter each day. Chess aside, he can read books in a matter of seconds and then relay the information from any given page.

This seemingly wondrous turn of events comes at a price though, as people Alex knows start to turn up dead. The lines between reality and Alex’s dream start to blur; he doesn’t know what is going on, but he is convinced that he is responsible. Is he the cause though? Or is it some strange beast? Only time will tell in this rather unique movie.

Headspace is a strange movie, the story is gripping and performed rather well by an extraordinary cast of familiar faces, yet is also suffers from a confusion of plotting at times. There’s a lot going on here, with characters popping up and quickly disappearing, frequent shifts in time back and forth, and all this in under 90 minutes. It is though quite an original concept and I did enjoy most of the film. Sure, there were elements I could have done without, but I will take flawed originality over perfect unoriginality any day of the week.

There are some solid scenes of gore to be found here too, which was quite unexpected, especially near the beginning in a scene that involves a shotgun. That being said, Headspace is most certainly a more cerebral horror film, albeit one with a schlocky feel to it.

The cast, as mentioned, is led by Christopher Denham’s convincing performance as Alex. He manages to portray a man whose grip on reality is fading incredibly well. It’s not perfect but it is convincing. Also popping up in the movie are Udo Kier, Olivia Hussey, Larry Fessenden (who for some reason gets a quote on the sleeve of a movie he is in), Sean Young, William Atherton and The Woman herself, Pollyanna McIntosh. It really is quite an excellent cast, and even Van Den Houten pops up as a paramedic.

As a movie though I would recommend checking it out, on the principle that it is something a little different from the norm, in terms of the horror genre, even when it doesn’t fire on all cylinders. Whilst watching it I thought it would make a good companion piece to William Malone’s Parasomnia, which is a favorite of mine, as both films deal with the mind, rather than just the external effects.

On the Blu-ray release there are also quite a healthy amount of extras to work through, which help make this a most worthy release. As I make mention of before, the film is not perfect but it is quite different, and as such make it worth your while if you are tired of watching the same rehashed ideas over and over again.

Headspace is available now on Blu-ray and DVD from MVD Visual and ModernCine.

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