Director: Romain Basset
Cast: Lilly-Fleur Pointeaux, Catriona MacColl, Murray Head
Production Company: HorseHead Pictures
Runtime: 89 minutes
Horsehead (2014) is proof positive that great art can arise out of an independent production. The movie is stylish in its execution, and hauntingly beautiful in almost every frame. Conversely, the narrative is a bit of a challenge, and has many confusing elements. Still, these confounding moments may actually add to the film’s overall mystique.
In the movie, Jessica (Lilly-Fleur Pointeaux) has been troubled by recurring nightmares all her life. She turns to oneirology to help her understand the clouded meaning of her dreams. When her grandmother suddenly passes away, she decides to return to her mother’s home. Jessica never did get along well with her mother (Catriona MacColl), and this resurfaces immediately upon her arrival.
Jessica’s dreams become even more fearsome now that she is back in her family home. She soon becomes ill, and is confined to her bed. She soon decides to use lucid dreaming techniques to take control of her nightmares. She hopes to solve the mystery of her visions, and learn the secrets surrounding her family.
Jessica’s dreams include an ominous creature with a horse’s head. This dark entity is most definitely a highlight of the film. It looks really incredible, and it’s fair to say that you’ve likely never seen anything quite like it before in any other movie. Some of the special effects surrounding this creature toward the end of the film are especially impressive.
The shots in this film are simply a pleasure to watch. It even won Best Cinematography at the Buenos Aires Rojo Sangre film festival in Brazil. One of the most notable parts of the film has to be the expert lighting. Many of the dream sequences are laced with colourful lights that spin around, adding to the beauty and the confusion at the same time.
Horsehead was filmed in France, and has that feel you would expect from a European horror movie. It owes a lot to filmmakers like Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento, and films like The Beyond (1981) and Suspiria (1977). I’ve come to expect a lot from European horror films, and Horsehead just adds to my point of view.
Catriona MacColl plays Jessica’s mother Catelyn, and is wonderful in the film. She’s been in a number of Fulci films herself. MacColl had roles in The House by the Cemetery (1981), City of the Living Dead (1980) and the aforementioned classic, The Beyond. Vernon Dobtcheff plays George in the movie, and has a great voice that I found memorable.
If not for the occasional use of a shaky camera, one would think they were watching a classic horror film from another era. Horsehead certainly deserves a lot of praise, even if it leaves me confused at times. I may have to let the story simmer in my mind for a little while. Maybe then I’ll be able to make horse heads or tails of it.
– John Migliore
For more information on the film, check out the links below…