Headhunter tells the charming tale of a businessman who's struck the glass ceiling at his current job, and happens to entertain the advice and advances of an executive headhunter. The problem, of course, is that her job title is completely literal.
This film opens with a fast-paced chase scene and someone beheaded before the opening credits. That's a lesson in attention-grabbing goodness which should be used far more often in the genre.
Ben Caruso (Parrillo) is a middle-aged white guy stuck in an insurance job where he simply can't go any higher. It's a situation far more realistic than most character backgrounds or challenges written into action and horror films. When he visits his client Doug (Irish-born Aiken), he gets the recommendation to go see an effective headhunter, Sarah (Clainos). Within minutes of their meeting (and shrugging off a warning from the odd bum out front), Sarah has an offer to match Ben's desires, if not his real goals.
Stuck in a dead-end job with a dried-up relationship, Ben has to take the “graveyard shift”. It's a rush into a new position and before he even knows what's really happened to him, Ben's up to his neck in some serious new issues. Once he takes the job, Ben keeps running into a frightening figure in the office, who finally reveals that if Ben doesn't find a certain missing body part of a certain incredibly hot blonde, he's one dead dude.
Relying on obstructed site images or quick jumps to keep viewers feeling the vibe for the first half of the movie, things pick up nicely once Ben realizes exactly what his challenge is.
Writer/director Paul Tarantino sculpts the business-world characters with incredible accuracy to create a believable canvas onto which the horror can be painted. The only superior job of working believable roles to fit a genre was Mike Judge's twisted stereotypes in Office Space.
Vincent Gillioz original music nicely supplements the quick hits and building story, using a variety of traditional instruments and interesting percussion. While not overly horrific, the film delivers increasing tension, with a crash-bang, race-the-clock ending. Just when the film seems to fit nicely into any cliché, the twists keep on coming.
Headhunter is very cleverly written, and a fun ride for viewers. The only area suffering from budget constraints is the effects, but genre fans can forgive a few visual shortcomings in exchange for talented actors and a well-constructed story.
As a guy who is routinely called by recruiters in relation to my day job, I think I'll just let the phone go to voicemail for a while.
The largest missing ingredient from this copy was the creative tagline featured in the trailer; “Never Bed the Undead”. Damn, I need a tee shirt that says that.
This DVD includes commentary and a “making of” featurette.