Headless Horseman (2007)

Headless Horseman (2007)

The Final Cut

A bunch of teenagers on a road trip decide to take a shortcut through the backwoods only to find themselves stranded in a town in the middle of nowhere. The town is celebrating it’s Headless Horseman anniversary but it isn’t long before the teenagers realise that the townspeople need to offer up seven heads to the headless horseman every seven years – and there are seven of them stranded in town!

 

Sleepy Hollow meets 2001 Maniacs in this rather plain supernatural slasher film. Headless Horseman is another Sci-Fi Channel flick and was made to be broadcast debut on the channel so expect as much as gore as you could get away with on TV (ie. not much), no nudity, the generic slasher script and the usual array of cannon fodder teenagers that the film is aimed at. Most of the Sci-Fi Channel flicks are pretty average, bordering on dreadful with the odd exception to the rule (Abominable was a decent effort to name one) so how would Headless Horseman stand up? Given that everyone has heard of the tale of the Headless Horseman from Washington Irving thanks to his more famous story Sleepy Hollow, there’s not a lot new to really cover. There’s a supernatural dude without a head who goes around cutting other people head’s off. However with the direction in which director Anthony C. Ferrante takes the material, you could have had any number of unnamed guys in masks killing the teenagers off.

The characters are stock: the joker, bitchy girlfriend, nerd, etc. and they might as well have been tagged with the order of their deaths. You know once in a while it may be nice for a film to swerve us and actually kill off different people first and leave the jocks and black people until the end! This bunch of characters is very unappealing and it says something that the dumb girlfriend is the best of the bunch. She actually gets a lot of decent throwaway lines that play off her stupidity. But at the end of the day, when you have bad actors in bad roles, you can’t really paper over the cracks can you? It wouldn’t surprise me to hear any of the actors in this say that it was the best role they ever played – possibly because (hopefully) for most of them, this is their only role!

Even the creepy hicks in the town just live up to stereotyping with the grizzled shopkeeper, some inbred-looking brothers and various other characters with Grizzly Adams-style beards. I simply can’t believe how many times I moan on about the characters in slasher films but time and time again, writers just serve up the same annoying cut-outs. Wes Craven veered off the beaten path with his unique characters in Scream and look at the response that got. I’m just begging someone to show an ounce of creativity and change the characters around for a change. Give them some intelligence so that they make logical decisions, not just hang around to be killed.

On the positive side though, the headless horseman is given plenty of screen time. Sometimes he sports a flaming pumpkin for a head; other times he just lets bloody veins sprout out of his neck. He is pretty bad ass and you do get a sense of dread when he was around. The film is better for it because too many TV movies just relegate their main attraction to a supporting role for budget reasons. Here, the horseman is the boss of the town and he throws himself around in great abundance. There is plenty of gore too and the beheadings are all pretty slick. To say it was made for TV, the level of creativity and skill involved in them is on par with some the lower budget theatrical releases I’ve watched.

 

Overall though, Headless Horseman is a run-of-the-mill slasher film with little or no remarkable qualities about it. Even the horseman can’t save this sorry mess of clich├ęs from the scrap heap after the opening few minutes. Definitely not one to lose your head over!

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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