DVD Review - Head Case

Paul McCloskey as serial-killer-next-door
Wayne Montgomery in "Head Case"
Head Case (2007) has gotten a proper DVD release. As of January 24, 2012, five years after its premiere, it's now made available everywhere DVDs are sold.

When I asked local filmmaker Anthony Spadaccini, the writer and director of Head Case, two years ago, what the point or purpose of his movie was. He replied, "My goal was to show evil incarnate in a suburban setting. Taking horror out of ghosts, zombies, and foreign torture chambers and placing it next door to the viewers. Their neighbors, their friends, people from their church. People the audience knows."

"Wayne and Andrea Montgomery represent familiar faces in a suburban neighborhood, but ones who carry out their own sick pleasures behind closed doors. That frightens the hell out of me," Spadaccini continued, "so the film depicted things that frighten or disgust me."

What he hopes is that his film will also frighten and disgust you, the audience, and undoubtingly it will. Wayne and Andrea Montgomery, whom Spadaccini referenced, are his two main characters who just happen to be husband-and-wife serial killers. Spadaccini's movie works under the premise that what you're seeing are the recovered videotapes the two made of their murders.

It's as shocking and disturbing as watching an actual snuff film. It does have a lot of blood and gore, but some of the camera-work and/or editing obscures certain moments of "penetration." You don't actually see the hammer to the back of the head or the cheese grater as it's castrating. Nevertheless, the film is still likely to garner just as visceral a reaction. It takes place in Claymont, Delaware, and seems as if it's set in the present-day with Wayne and Andrea using what looks like a mini-DV camera. Neither of them are trained photographers, so I suppose we have to accept that the look of it is amateurish. What we get is a sick series of scenes from this married couple's home movie collection.

Whereas Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers (2004), which is also about a man and woman who become serial killers, was an over-the-top, Tarantino-style, media satire, Spadaccini's movie is meant to be another in the found-footage genre of movies. Yes, according to wikipedia, "found footage" films done in the same style as The Blair Witch Project (1999) are now their own genre. The first found-footage type came out in 1980, but, really, this genre is just the horror version of mockumentaries, which have been around since the 1960s.

Most of these found-footage films are mainly about something supernatural. Less than a handful are about supposed, true crimes, the recordings of serial killers in particular. Spadaccini's movie and its subsequent sequels are the most recent. The first of this type though was a Belgium, independent film called Man Bites Dog (1992), which I happened to see before seeing Spadaccini's Head Case.

Like Man Bites Dog, Spadaccini's Head Case is morbid voyeurism at its best. There's no air vent. The way that he's set it up, the audience is merely supposed to breathe these people in like some kind of nitrous oxide he's giving before violently pulling their teeth out. If it works, it's because, unlike going to the dentist, America at-large seems to enjoy movies and TV shows about murder and murderers.

Three stars out of five
Unrated but recommended for mature audiences
Running Time: 1 hr. 45 mins.

For more information about this film or its director, go to the Head Case facebook page.


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