Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the horror/thriller BULLET HEAD (2017) by writer/director Paul Solet. To best describe the story, I will turn to the IMDB plot summary:
“Three career criminals find themselves trapped in a warehouse with the law closing in and an even worse threat waiting for them outside.”
To be honest, I love the cast in this feature. To be even more honest, I still did not expect to enjoy this film at all. I figured at best it would be a guilty pleasure and at worse something that would make me hang my head in shame. Boy was I ever wrong.
The story, though relatively basic, proved to be compelling thanks to the various flashbacks. Every so often, one of the criminals would refer to something that had happened in their past and thus would unfold a tale that added depth to each of their roles. These moments also made each of the characters easier to relate to so that when the trouble starts to happen, we actually care.
Of course, us caring does come quite a bit from the acting of our three leads. While it is easy to think that Brody or Malkovich would be the shoe in for best performance, Culkin swoops in and gives one of the most heartbreaking monologues within the flick. Up until that point I was enjoying the film, but this scene proved the linchpin that kept me plugged in right up until the finale.
Trouble comes in the form of a fighting dog that just refuses to be put down. While one could argue that a dog by its nature is not scary, this pooch proves early on to be a major threat as he silently roams the halls and hunts the felons. More interesting than the dog himself is how they make use of point of view camera shots so that we see things from his perspective just as much as we see man’s best friend. Sure, first person camera shots are nothing new, but here its utilization helps to keep the dog out of frame (so that he does not become a ridiculous joke) and also shows how vicious he is while on the hunt.
From a stylistic standpoint, there were a lot of smart choices made here that were simple, yet engaging. For example, instead of cutting away to the flashbacks, we often see the characters who are talking standing right in scene with their younger selves as they begin relating their story. While this is by no means a groundbreaking technique, it is a fun and memorable touch that adds a certain verve to the piece.
If I had to level one complaint it would be that for all the bullets flying and dog attacks, the protagonists seemed to survive much longer than humanly feasible. I will grant that this has been the case in many movies throughout the years, but it still irks me when a storyline seems more grounded in reality than fantasy. In no way does this make the movie bad, it is actually quite good, but it is something I wish had been dealt with a bit differently.
All in all, this was a surprisingly well crafted thriller with some great characters. The emotional beats worked and the style backing the other moving pieces up was top of the line. I also like that a portion of the proceeds are going towards helping dogs in need as canine treatment is a major theme of the movie. People who want to see what a comedic crime thriller like In Bruges (2008) would look like with a dog like Cujo (1983) in the mix should definitely give this a look.
BULLET HEAD will arrive in select theaters and On Demand December 8th
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