Tag Archives: Aaron Jakubenko

Murder by Number

Head Count

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.

State of Shark

Great White

by George Wolf

Wait, no new scientific term mixing sharks and weather? No genetically modified sharks? Unearthed prehistoric giants? Sharks with lasers on their heads?

Geesh, do these guys even know how to Sharkmovie?

Don’t get me wrong, Shudder’s Great White gives you plenty of opportunity to suspend disbelief, but it’s built on a premise that now seems almost quaint.

People in the water. Sharks in the water. Big sharks.

Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies….

Actually these are Australian waters, with Charlie (Aaron Jakubenko) and Kaz (Katrina Bowden) running the Pearl Air charter service, where they debate getting married and fire up the seaplane to take tourists on excursions to Hell’s Reef.

The business needs some renewed cash flow, so Charlie is only too happy to book a last minute trip for superdouche investment analyst Joji (Tiim Kano) and his wife Michelle (Kimie Tsukakoshi), who wants to scatter her Grandfather’s ashes in the sea.

But even before cook Benny (Te Kohe Tuhaka) can whip them up a delicious lunch on the island, a ridiculous accident puts everyone in a life raft trying to evade some large, hungry predators that supposedly injured some bathers.

Yes, that’s another Jaws reference, which seems appropriate as director Martin Wilson doesn’t shy away from them either, even including a pretty shameless re-working of one of Spielberg’s classic scenes. But Wilson does craft one major jump scare of his own, and adds frequent shots framed right on the waterline to consistently simmer the tension through simultaneous looks at the castaways and what they fear.

Bowden and Jakubenko mine Michael Boughen’s script for enough authenticity to seem like real people who care for each other. Kano and Tsukakoshi aren’t as lucky, with the Joji character painted as such an over the top asshole that it’s clear he’ll be an entree, the only question is how bloody satisfying it will be to watch.

These man-eaters never do get lasers, but there’s still some pretty outlandish shark wrangling before the shoreline comes into view. So while Great White gets some props for not drowning in silliness from the start, that may have been the only way to make it memorable.