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Reviewed by: Pat Torfe

Directed by: Andrew van den Houten

Christopher Denham
Erick Kastel
Udo Kier
Dee Wallace Stone

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What's it about

When he was a little boy, Alex's mom decided to go loopy and turn into a monster, forcing Alex's dad to perform shotgun surgery. As a result, Alex and his brother were sent to foster care, but Alex's dreams were still haunted by the events of that night. 20 years later, after experiencing a sort of seizure, Alex is rushed to the hospital. A scan reveals that his frontal lobe is over-active, enabling him to practically anticipate what people are about to say and describe events that he didn't witness. Problem is, the demons in his dreams that haunted him as a kid have taken on a life of their own.

Is it good movie?

Films revolving around what goes on inside someone's head are pretty good starting points for freaking people out. Because really, what's scarier than the things that go on inside your own mind? Some of my favorite films play off of that in one way or another, but that doesn't necessarily mean that any film dealing with psychology is a slam dunk. 2005's HEADSPACE seemed like it was in the middle of the road for many people, though with the new director's cut of the film, things may have changed for the better (keep in mind that I haven't seen the original cut, so I'm going into this one blind for comparison).

Again, films that deal with what goes on inside your noggin almost always get me going, and as far as this film's concept, director Andrew van den Houten picked a smart one. What's more impressive is that van den Houten was able to pull off something like this in his feature film debut. It's a shoestring budget affair, but being able to assemble a cast and crew like this one and making it work is nothing to sneeze at.

Speaking of the cast, it mostly consists of newcomers, but they pull off a great job in this film. As the film's protagonist, Christopher Denham brings it as the haunted and disheveled Alex Borden. Likewise, his eventual partner and chess-hustler Erick Kastel turns in a strong performance as Harry. As for the big names such as Udo Kier and Dee Wallace Stone, they more or less amount to cameos, but it's still fun to see. In addition to the cast, the effects crew really put forth the effort in giving us some rather neat effects on the meagre budget, particularly the aforementioned shotgun blast to the fact at the beginning of the film. As for the monster, it's a guy in a suit, but again, it's all about the effort.

So, sounds like it would be a worthwhile watch? Well, yes and no. The 'No' comes in the fact that the film drags frequently when it comes to the outright vagueness of the narrative. Sure, dealing with something like the mind is bound to have a mysterious quality to it, which is good. What isn't good is that this overall vague feeling starts to leave far more questions than necessary. Ideas are introduced, people talk about things. But it's all never direct and is something that you'd see in a more pretentious film. Don't get me wrong, HEADSPACE is not pretentious. It just feels like the film could've been more concrete.

I'll say that as a debut, HEADSPACE had a lot of effort put into it that should be acknowledged. The cast and crew took a small budget and turned it into something that a lot of indie filmmakers wish that they could do for such a film. While it's not going to unseat any creepy psychological horror heavyweights, it's still an admirable film that deserves a viewing.

Video / Audio

Video: Again, while I haven't seen the original DVD with which to compare this new cut, from the looks of it, the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks pretty good for a film such as this. Colours are nicely replicated, with fairly good detail. There's some fine film grain throughout the film, but it's nothing too distracting.

Audio: Likewise, the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track is pretty good for an independent film such as this one. Dialogue is clear and easy to discern, without any distortion.

The Extras

Much of the extras from the previous release have been carried over to this new release. First up are two audio commentaries. The audio commentary with director Andrew van den Houten and cinematographer/producer William M. Miller is an informative one. The duo talk a lot about how the shots were constructed and little tidbits about production and the differences between the cuts. Likewise, the audio commentary with composer Ryan Shore, editor Elwaldo Baptiste, and FX artist Jamie Kelman is also very informative and fun to listen to. There are definitely no dead spots in these tracks.

The new extra is Headspace Revisited, which a half-hour chat with van den Houten and Denham meeting up at a park for a look back at the film.

Fractured Skulls: The Making Of 'Headspace' is your half-hour documentary which covers the movie's themes, casting, shooting, etc. and does a good job of going behind-the-scenes. I always love the stuff with the FX guys showing the creature effects and makeup. Very cool.

The seven-minute FX Journal from the original release has now been cut down to just over one minute, so the photos showing Jamie Kelman working on creature molds and the like go by pretty quickly. In other words, use your pause button.

Audition Videos by various members of the cast are also included, with Christopher & Erick doing solo auditions as well as a callback together. I'm not the biggest fan of putting audition videos as an extra, but these were interesting enough to watch.

There's also 19 minutes of Deleted/Alternate Scenes, which constitute extensions of scenes already in the film, or stuff that was cut for pacing.

Finally, the film's trailer is also included, along with a handful of other trailers for Modern Ciné releases.

Last Call

Great concept with a great effort, HEADSPACE mainly gets its shots in before the overall wandering narrative starts to eat into it. This new DVD offers a few new goodies that fans of the original version may not want to commit to double-dipping, but those who missed the previous release and are looking for a good indie debut will enjoy what's here.

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