2023. R. 80 mins. Directed by Ben & Jacob Burghart
Head Count follows Kat, an escaped convict who has been kidnapped by an unknown person. While being held captive Kat finds his own revolver pointed at his head. As his captor tries to pull the trigger, each empty round clicks away and sparks Kat to remember what happened to each bullet. The pressure mounts as Kat must figure out how many rounds are left and try to devise a plan to escape.
Directors Ben and Jacob Burghart have put together a tight neo-noir thriller that steps on the gas early and doesn't let up until the end. The story itself is highly engaging as we watch the character Kat try and navigate through many different situations ultimately landing himself in hot water almost every time. Josh Doke, along with the Burghart brothers, put forth a solid script that keeps you guessing and wondering what will happen next around every turn. Despite its short run time there are enough tense moments that will keep you glued to the screen.
Aaron Jakubenko, who plays Kat, turns in a great performance and really puts the movie on his shoulders. While everyone else in the cast does a good job, this is Jakubenko's movie and he carries the weight of it through his performance. Without him the movie would not be the same and is a real testament to his skills on screen. Ryan Kwanten, as an impulsive police officer, is a great actor to have play off Jakubenko for most of the movie. Their scenes together are some of the best in the movie and add so much to the dynamic of the story. Rounding out the great performances is Melanie Zanetti, who if you have kids will know her as the voice of Chili from the animated series Bluey. She plays Kat's ex-lover and while they don't have many scenes together their chemistry adds another dynamic to the movie that plays a big part in the overall arc of the story.
In the end, Head Count executes what it sets out to do in great fashion. The direction and script from the Burghart brothers make this thriller hit all the right beats to make it work more than it doesn't. While there are some moments that don't stick the landing, the tense nature of the story and the thought of what will happen next keeps you invested until the end. Performances from the cast are all great but it's Aaron Jakubenko that is the standout and what carries the movie from start to finish.