Reviews | Written by JAMES "MAGIC" PERKINS 22/07/2019

HEADSHOTS

HEADSHOTS / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: CHRIS O'NEILL / SCREENPLAY: ROCHELLE CARINO, CHRIS O'NEILL / STARRING: NIKA KHITROVA, CHRIS O'NEILL, OLIVIA CASTANHO, DANI SAVKA, GRAHAM SELDEN / RELEASE DATE: TBC

The dream of becoming a star quickly turns into a nightmare for English Actress Jamie in Headshots, a horror-thriller from Chris O’Neill.

Everybody knows it’s a dog-eat-dog world in today’s entertainment industry and that has been something that has been touched upon before in film (see The Neon Demon as a prime example), but in this case, O'Neill has opted for something a little more real and raw involving kidnap and murder. The story follows Jamie, a UK based actress who dreams of superstardom. She decides to move to LA to achieve this dream and, after joining a drama class to meet new people, is instructed to update her headshots. What she doesn't realise, is that the photographer is not all he seems to be and has much more sinister motives. After Jamie goes missing, her brother and sister make the trip to the states in order to truly discover what happened to her.

Headshots is really a film of two halves - it takes a great chunk of time establishing Jamie and her story before turning into something very different which felt fresh and exciting. However, with a promising concept and twist, the film, unfortunately, falls flat because of a multitude of issues.

In independent filmmaking, budget constrictions can occasionally be a blessing in disguise - the filmmakers are forced into trying unusual tactics in order to achieve their goal - but with Headshots, even though it is apparent that director Chris O'Neill tried his hardest; poor sound editing, lighting and wooden performances from the supporting cast let the film down dramatically. That's not to say that every performance is bad - the lead characters including the dastardly photographer are solid and add to the tension but the entire package just felt flat and stilted.

Overall, Headshots is an indie thriller that is competently directed, has a solid concept but is severely hindered by lack of budget, poor editing across the board and wooden acting which is a real shame. Although that is the case, O'Neill should still be commended for his filmmaking efforts.