The DVD Pub Reviews
Headspace: "Director's Cut"
Reviewed by: Pat Torfe
RATING 3/4 STARS
WHAT IT'S ABOUT
When he was a little boy, Alex's mom decided to go loopy and turn into a
monster, forcing Alex's dad to perform shotgun surgery. As a result, Alex
and his brother were sent to foster care, but Alex's dreams were still
haunted by the events of that night. 20 years later, after experiencing a
sort of seizure, Alex is rushed to the hospital. A scan reveals that his
frontal lobe is over-active, enabling him to practically anticipate what
people are about to say and describe events that he didn't witness. Problem
is, the demons in his dreams that haunted him as a kid have taken on a life
of their own.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE
Films revolving around what
goes on inside someone's head are pretty good starting points for freaking
people out. Because really, what's scarier than the things that go on inside
your own mind? Some of my favorite films play off of that in one way or
another, but that doesn't necessarily mean that any film dealing with
psychology is a slam dunk. 2005's HEADSPACE seemed like it was in the middle
of the road for many people, though with the new director's cut of the film,
things may have changed for the better (keep in mind that I haven't seen the
original cut, so I'm going into this one blind for comparison).
Again, films that deal with what goes on inside your noggin almost always
get me going, and as far as this film's concept, director Andrew van den
Houten picked a smart one. What's more impressive is that van den Houten was
able to pull off something like this in his feature film debut. It's a
shoestring budget affair, but being able to assemble a cast and crew like
this one and making it work is nothing to sneeze at.
Speaking of the cast, it mostly consists of newcomers, but they pull off
a great job in this film. As the film's protagonist, Christopher Denham
brings it as the haunted and disheveled Alex Borden. Likewise, his eventual
partner and chess-hustler Erick Kastel turns in a strong performance as
Harry. As for the big names such as Udo Kier and Dee Wallace Stone, they
more or less amount to cameos, but it's still fun to see. In addition to the
cast, the effects crew really put forth the effort in giving us some rather
neat effects on the meagre budget, particularly the aforementioned shotgun
blast to the fact at the beginning of the film. As for the monster, it's a
guy in a suit, but again, it's all about the effort.
So, sounds like it would be a worthwhile watch? Well, yes and no. The
'No' comes in the fact that the film drags frequently when it comes to the
outright vagueness of the narrative. Sure, dealing with something like the
mind is bound to have a mysterious quality to it, which is good. What isn't
good is that this overall vague feeling starts to leave far more questions
than necessary. Ideas are introduced, people talk about things. But it's all
never direct and is something that you'd see in a more pretentious film.
Don't get me wrong, HEADSPACE is not pretentious. It just feels like the
film could've been more concrete.
I'll say that as a debut, HEADSPACE had a lot of effort put into it that
should be acknowledged. The cast and crew took a small budget and turned it
into something that a lot of indie filmmakers wish that they could do for
such a film. While it's not going to unseat any creepy psychological horror
heavyweights, it's still an admirable film that deserves a viewing.
VIDEO / AUDIO
Video: Again, while I haven't seen the original DVD with which to compare
this new cut, from the looks of it, the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen
transfer looks pretty good for a film such as this. Colours are nicely
replicated, with fairly good detail. There's some fine film grain throughout
the film, but it's nothing too distracting.
Audio: Likewise, the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track is pretty good for
an independent film such as this one. Dialogue is clear and easy to discern,
without any distortion.
Much of the extras from the previous release have been carried over to
this new release. First up are two audio commentaries. The audio commentary
with director Andrew van den Houten and cinematographer/producer William M.
Miller is an informative one. The duo talk a lot about how the shots were
constructed and little tidbits about production and the differences between
the cuts. Likewise, the audio commentary with composer Ryan Shore, editor
Elwaldo Baptiste, and FX artist Jamie Kelman is also very informative and
fun to listen to. There are definitely no dead spots in these tracks.
The new extra is Headspace Revisited, which a half-hour chat with van den
Houten and Denham meeting up at a park for a look back at the film.
Fractured Skulls: The Making Of 'Headspace' is your half-hour documentary
which covers the movie's themes, casting, shooting, etc. and does a good job
of going behind-the-scenes. I always love the stuff with the FX guys showing
the creature effects and makeup. Very cool.
The seven-minute FX Journal from the original release has now been cut
down to just over one minute, so the photos showing Jamie Kelman working on
creature molds and the like go by pretty quickly. In other words, use your
Audition Videos by various members of the cast are also included, with
Christopher & Erick doing solo auditions as well as a callback together. I'm
not the biggest fan of putting audition videos as an extra, but these were
interesting enough to watch.
There's also 19 minutes of Deleted/Alternate Scenes, which constitute
extensions of scenes already in the film, or stuff that was cut for pacing.
Finally, the film's trailer is also included, along with a handful of
other trailers for Modern Ciné releases.
Great concept with a great effort, HEADSPACE mainly gets its shots in
before the overall wandering narrative starts to eat into it. This new DVD
offers a few new goodies that fans of the original version may not want to
commit to double-dipping, but those who missed the previous release and are
looking for a good indie debut will enjoy what's here.
OVERALL RATING 3/4 STARS