Directed by Chris O’Neill, Headshots is not the first movie to cast an eye towards Hollywood for its horror theme. However, thanks to a well written story, good acting and a smart look at the seedy side of LA, it’s a movie that stands out from the pack.
It stars Nika Khitrova as Jamie, an aspiring British actress who moves to LA to become a star. She had high hopes but quickly discovers that making it is not as easy as it seems. Rejection and jealousy run rampant as she struggles to make a life for herself. Then when she finally seems to catch a break, she crosses paths with a serial killer.
One of the more interesting things about Headshots is how it kills off the main character at the halfway point. Unexpected and puzzling but a clever move as the second half of the film changes focus for a more interesting story.
Now don’t get me wrong, Jamie’s plight is interesting and Nika Khitrova is a great actress. However, the struggling wannabe star thing has been done. As a character she is sympathetic to a point but she also frustrates. Especially with some of her decision making and lack of logical thinking.
This would be a negative of the movie if it wasn’t for her character’s clear desperation. When you’re desperate you’ll make rash decisions and make mistakes. Unfortunately for Jamie, it costs her.
From the victim the movie then focuses on the killer and dives into their backstory. This is so rare, a really fleshed out character whose motivations are clear and almost understandable. If it wasn’t for the fact that they are psychotic.
You can easily imagine someone like this person existing in Hollywood though. Sick of the rejection and watching younger/prettier people taking parts they think they should have. Headshots does not paint Hollywood in a good light and director Chris O’Neill captures this wonderfully.
One such moment that sticks in the mind sees a character at an audition. Only to have the director talk about her to the casting agent in a really derogatory fashion while she stands there. This man is completely out of shot so all we hear is his voice and see the reaction on her poor face. Excellently done and believable.
The story does begin to diminish slightly as we reach the finale. Jamie’s brother and sister (the director himself and Olivia Castanho) arrive in town to try and find out what happened to her. This sets them on a collision course with the killer too. It’s a little long-winded and drawn out, yet still manages to create tension with a well-done dinner scene.
It’s a minor complaint about a movie that pretty much nails what it set out to do. It’s an unglamorous look at Hollywood’s ‘use them at lose them’ culture wrapped up in a horror movie. Well worth a watch.