Head Count movie poster

Head Count

In theaters September 29, 2023



80 minutes

Directed by: ,

Starring: , ,

I am not into Westerns. I am not a Clint Eastwood fan and don’t find anything romantic about showdowns in dry desert towns. With that said, Head Count (2023) is probably the most fun you’ll have with a neo-western that will make you forget you’re watching a Western.

Kat (Aaron Jakubenko) is not a lucky man. Head Count opens with Kat on his knees with the business end of a revolver pointed at his head. For every dry click, we’re taken on a stylized ride down memory lane as he counts back exactly where each of those bullets might be and how many more chances he has. Recently escaped from prison, he was looking to find his girl and maybe some cash and start over as far away as he can get. He’s smart and good-looking, but impulsive and he has a mouth that many people do not find endearing. Hoping to rely on the bridges he hasn’t completely burned, Kat looks to his brother Hayes (Kyle Dyck) and ex-girlfriend, Jo (Melanie Zanetti) to at least get him out of the state. He’s doggedly pursued by Sawyer (Ryan Kwanten) a sheriff’s deputy, who’s not quite a step ahead, but certainly not trailing behind.

The action and comedy are organic in Head Count and they feel like the small-town faux pas that can happen when you’ve been away for a while, like breaking into the home of a friend who has since moved or accidentally double-crossing a man who isn’t entirely who he seems. Kat has a warm cleverness to his character and it’s easy to see how a smart guy bored with the banal can end up in difficult predicaments. Directors Ben Burghart and Jacob Burghart give Head Count a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) flavor with a Quick and the Dead (1995) edge. The seedy underbelly of a small Kansas town may not have all of the glitz and glamor of Las Vegas, but there are enough heavies, drugs, and guns to get your legs broken. Glimpses of backstory remind you that Kat may not deserve everything he’s getting, but he probably deserves most of it. Ben and Jacob don’t rely completely on the gimmick of the bullet count rolling back (or forward) but it’s a giddy little snap to keep the eyes focused on the screen. At 80 minutes, Head Count is a prison escape/heist/shoot’ em up movie that doesn’t overstay its welcome and knows when to hop the rails to Saskatoon.

Instead of Blondie (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly [1966]), it’s always better to be a Kat.

Head Count (2023) is unrated but it’s definitely an R for swears, off-screen sexytimes, people getting beat up, people getting shot, people being mauled by bears and cougars, body dumps, and Russian roulette.

Head Count is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: MontiLee Stormer
MontiLee Stormer is a writer of horror, dark and urban fantasy. She’s also is a troublemaker, concocting acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. An avid movie watcher, she prefers horror but will see just about anything if you're buying. Poltergeist (1982) is her favorite movie and she actively hates The Shining (1980) due to its racism, misogyny, the butchering of the source material. She could host a TEDtalk on this single subject. Writing about herself in the third person is just a bonus.

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