by Rachel Willis
A freak occurrence while working on a prison chain gang allows Kat (Aaron Jakubenko) the chance to run. It’s a opportunity he takes, only to end up on the wrong side of his own gun in the film Head Count, directed by the Burghart Brothers.
Flashing back, Kat runs through the past few days, wondering where each of the six bullets in his gun’s barrel have gone. Are there any left?
A running tally as we move through Kat’s memories removes any guessing on the audience’s part. I did feel there were one too many bullets left in one scene, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if I miscounted, even with the handy on-screen ticker. Unfortunately, removing the audience’s job of keeping count of the bullets over the course of the film’s runtime eliminates any tension.
Each flashback is accompanied by on-screen text that lets us know where we are in Kat’s life. Unlike the bullet count, the solid placement in time is useful. Throughout the flashbacks, we continue to jump back to the moment where the gun is trained on Kat’s head, an unnecessary reminder of the stakes as we tally each bullet.
Still, the film’s biggest flaw is the dialogue. There’s too much exposition and too much filler. Many conversations ring false, particularly those between Kat and his would-be killer.
The acting helps strengthen the flimsy dialogue, mostly because it’s delivered with conviction. Jakubenko especially works hard to bring Kat’s predicaments (which just keep coming) to life.
Not everyone gets as much to work with – yet another of the film’s weaker elements. The ancillary characters, especially the ones Kat cares about, don’t bring a lot to the table. The lack of depth means we don’t much care what happens to them, even as Kat tries to convince us to do just that.
There are a few humorous scenes that help balance the film’s weaker moments, but even these successes aren’t enough to completely negate the less interesting scenes. However, it’s a decent premise and the Burghart brothers bring their own take to this western thriller. There’s enough to keep one entertained if not completely satisfied.