Headspace DVD Review

 

Written by Steve "Alien Redrum" Pattee

 

DVD released by Vivendi Visual Entertainment

 

Official Site

 


It's not everyday your friends get butched by some beast. – Harry

 


Directed by Andrew van den Houten
Written by Steve Klausner, Troy McCombs and William M. Miller
2005, Region 1 (NTSC), 89 minutes, Rated R
September 12th, 2006

Starring:
Olivia Hussey as Dr. Karen Murphy
William Atherton as Dr. Ira Gold
Sean Young as Mother
Mark Margolis as Boris Pavlovsky
Larry Fessenden as Father
Erik Kastel as Henry Jellenik
Christopher Denham as Alex Borden
Dee Wallace Stone as Dr. Denise Bell
Udo Kier as Rev. Karl Hartman

 

Movie:

 

When Alex Borden (Christopher Denham) suddenly finds he has mental powers he never had before, he doesn't know what to make of it.

 

One day, he is just a guy who saw his father shoot his mother when he was a boy; the next, he is reading novels in an hour and memorizing what's in them.

 

But the downside to this new gift is he starts having some nasty visions, and the people around him start dying off in the most gruesome of ways.

 

Now Alex must find out what the demons he sees are and how he can stop them from killing those closest to him.

 

 

Review:

 

Looking at Headspace's box cover, I was immediately impressed by the acting caliber in this movie. Olivia Hussey (Black Christmas), William Atherton (Die Hard), Sean Young (Blade Runner), Mark Margolis (TV's "OZ"), Dee Wallace Stone (Cujo) and Udo Kier (Blade) graced the header. Good times, indeed.

 

How, I wondered, could a first-time director secure so many name actors? Well, I found out: With the exception of Hussey, all of the others have barely more than cameo roles; and Hussey herself only has a small supporting role.

 

But that's okay, because Headspace is not one of those movies that strictly relies on the names on the outside to sell the product, and have garbage on the inside (although I'm sure those names help for rentals and sales).

 

In a nutshell, it's a monster movie. Headspace wisely spends an adequate time on character development and story. Giving you bits and pieces of what's to come, it's always leading you along; feeding you just enough info to keep you hungry for more.

 

Some of the kills in the film are fantastic. Sean Young's death (yeah, no spoiler warning, as it happens in the first 10 minutes) is exquisite — made sweeter by the fact that her husband is the one who shot her. Right in front of the kids. There's something pretty twisted about having two boys see their mother take a shotgun round to the face. Rock on.

 

In addition, the monsters are very well done. These are monsters that could easily be found in an "X-Files" or "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" episode, and not a low-budget movie. Plus, the use of the monsters was very well done, as you see just enough of them for effect and not enough of them to pick them apart.

 

But the same thing that helps the film — the attempt to be that smart monster movie — also hurts it, because it tries to be too smart for its own good. Headspace throws a lot of information at you in an attempt to explain why Alex is having the visions and what's happening to him. But, at the end of the day, it's just a monster movie. Because in an effort to explain as much as possible to the viewer, while also trying to leave just enough out for interpretation, it ends up that you get both too much information and not enough. For example, it's explained why his visions were triggered, but not how. It touched on it, enough to whet your appetite, but not enough to quench it. There are times when ambiguous works, and this is not one of them.

 

That's not to say the movie is bad. For a first full-length film, director Andrew van den Houten has done extremely well. Everything about the movie screams big budget. The movie has numerous — and great — locations, recognizable actors, a good score (that's not PC created!) and some damn decent gore and creature effects. It's a slick-looking movie that begs the question of what the budget was.

 

 

Video and Audio:

 

Headspace's anamorphic 1.78:1 presentation is free from blemishes. Colors are natural and blacks are appropriately dark (though they could be a tad darker). The picture itself is very "warm," and it works very well for this film.

 

The 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack is surprisingly bland. Voices are never overpowered by either the music or the sound effects, but there are times where the sides and rears were completely underutilized — the kill scenes immediately come to mind.

 

Dolby 2.0 stereo and Spanish subtitles are also available.

 

 

Special Features:

 

  • Fractured Skulls: The Making of Headspace
  • Filmmakers Commentaries
  • FX Journal
  • Deleted, Extended and Alternate Scenes
  • Isolated Music Score
  • Photo Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Talent Bios
  • Easter Eggs

 

"Fractured Skulls: The Making of Headspace" runs about a half an hour and is an actual making-of documentary. For the most part, it stays away from "Oh my God, so-and-so was a pleasure to work with!" and supplies some interesting behind-the-scenes shots and off-the-cuff interviews.

 

Of the two commentaries, go with the second.

 

On the first, van den Houten and William Miller, the cinematographer are enjoyable to listen to as they are obviously proud of their movie and enjoy talking about it. But they don't tell a whole lot about the actual making of the film, as the majority of the time is spent on how it was a pleasure working with the various actors. In their defense, though, it's not sycophantic, so it wasn't annoying.

 

The second commentary, though, goes into more detail about the technical aspects of the film . And once you get used to Elwaldo Baptiste (who's on speakerphone), it's a great listen. With Ryan Shore (score) talking about the music, Jamie Kelman (special makeup effects) talking about effects and Baptiste (the editor) on certain shots that were both used and cut, you know you're getting a little bit of everything.

 

The "FX Journal" basically is a quick little piece showcasing the monster effects.

 

There are 18 deleted, extended and alternate scenes (including one outtake). I'm a fan of deleted scenes, whether they are good cuts or not, but 18 borders on overkill. However, I would like to thank the filmmakers for not going with the alternate ending. Holy cow, that would have sucked.

 

The isolated music score is a nice touch, as the score is worth listening to on its own. I actually had it going on in the background as I wrote this review.

 

The photo gallery, trailer and bios are what you would expect, and the only Easter egg I could find was the audition for Denham and Erick Kastel, who portrayed Harry in the film. That was pretty cool.

 

 

Grades:

 

Movie:
Video:
Audio:
Features:
Overall:

 

 

Conclusion:

 

Even though it tries to be more than it is, Headspace does make a valiant effort to be a better monster movie. With the caliber of supporting cast, the strong performances of both Denham and Kastel, and the terrific locations captured so well by William Miller's cinematography, van den Houten has directed an excellent start to his career.





(Equipment includes a Mitsubishi WS-48613 48” HDTV, Sony DVP-CX875P DVD player and Onkyo HTS-770 Home Theater System and, in some cases, a Sony 27” WEGA TV and a Sony DVP-NS50P DVD player.)

 

Want to comment on this review? You can leave one below or head over to the Horrortalk Review Forum.

 

About The Author
Steve Pattee
Author: Steve Pattee
Administrator, US Editor
He's the puppet master. You don't see him, but he pulls the strings that gets things done. He's the silent partner. He's black ops. If you notice his presence, it's the last thing you'll notice — because now you're dead. He's the shadow you thought you saw in that dark alleyway. You can have a conversation with him, and when you turn around to offer him a cup of coffee, he's already gone.
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