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‘Head Count’ Bringing Folk Lore Back To Horror

Head Count poster 2019

In 1992 if you said “Candyman” into the mirror three times a hook-handed entity would take your life. 2021 now marks the release of the sequel to the tale that forced many a bedroom light to be switched on. What’s more exciting than a horror folk tale? Head Count is definitely the movie to see next if you enjoy this kind of story. Scroll down to the Head Count spoiler section if you’re looking for answers. If you say hisji, hisji, hisji, hisji will the curse get you?

What I loved about the narrative used in Head Count was its ability to stray from the stereotypical typecasting of making everyone an idiot. For example, despite a weekend fueled with drugs and alcohol, most of its members make good decisions. You get to know the people you need to know, which is typical of a slasher movie. Out of the eleven people in this film, the few who are fleshed out, are given a nice amount of depth. It was difficult to pin down who might die next, and Mother of Movies likes a little suprise from time to time. What’s more, I found myself reaching for the remote when I noticed people were missing. You really have to pay attention for the finer details.

Isaac Jay and Ashleigh Morghan as Zoe and Peyton in 2019's Head Count
Isaac Jay and Ashleigh Morghan as Zoe and Peyton

Annoying Characters?

I did find some participants in the group a little annoying at times. But don’t worry, even the other characters admit they are. Through a comment from Evan later in the film, he actually points out that Nico is lacking in the brains department. It can be concluded that most of this group is simply a number. But as I just mentioned, don’t forget to keep count of who is still there, it makes the whole film just that little bit more enjoyable.

The story begins with Evan who heads off to see his brother instead of hanging out with his friends during school-break. While out hiking, they come across a group of people kicking back on route to a house they’ve rented. Peyton decides to give his younger brother a chance to have some fun and they instead make plans to meet up the following day.

Serendipity

Although heavily reliant on coincidence, the main juice in the flow of the story comes from the ability to keep you on your toes. Should you rewind it and start over? Well, in fact, I did. I simply couldn’t help myself. I thought I was diving into a blase movie about a bunch of kids that get knocked off one by one. Plain and simple. Instead, I went back and got evidence of the clues hidden in the simple structure of the film. All this is in the Head Count spoiler section at the end if you care to take a look. I even took screen shots to pin down some really neat attention to detail by the writers!

Isaac Jay, Hunter Peterson, Bevin Bru, and Billy Meade in Head Count. If you say hisji hisji hisji will the curse get you?
Isaac Jay, Hunter Peterson, Bevin Bru, and Billy Meade. Head Count spoiler review

Head Count Official Trailer

Head Count trailer. Review with Spoiler and explanation

Head Count Movie

The writer-director Ellie Callahan has more than a simple play by play here. Previously Callahan has written short films— and this is, in fact, her directorial and story debut for a full-length feature film. Because of this, her next film Witch Hunt is something I will be keeping my eye out for.

I’m not going to spoil any of the mystery here. Maybe you’re like me and like to watch a film with as little detail as possible. The trailer above does a great job of not giving the game away too much.

Get Up and Jump

One thing I didn’t like about this was some of the sound editings. It is something used in a lot of mainstream horrors and quite honestly irritates me. This movie would have been far creepier if the more subtle scenes with the Hisji weren’t marked with a loud sound. In most films that utilize this, I find the gasp that might have come is stifled. Thank you for spelling out that the flash of something scary across the screen was in fact scary. In this case, the Hisji’s presence is made known with a subtle rattling sound. On top of this, a loud ‘startle’ sound has been added as well.

Aside from this, there wasn’t much I didn’t like about the story, the finale, and the homage to other folklore movies like it. Head Count is a film that easily stands alone but would also be met with excitement (yes, by me) if it were to get a sequel. Many people with more discerning tastes will not agree. The storyline is simplistic, and there is a lack of gore for those looking for banging kills. For me though, I did go back on an information-gathering exercise and if you scroll down to the Head Count spoiler section, you’ll find out what I uncovered.

Overall, if you don’t expect too much from this and enjoy films like ‘It Follows’ and ‘Candyman’ then you’ll be happy with your nights’ viewing. The movie will be dropping on the Shudder platform from February 2nd, 2021, and I urge you to give it some time.

I give Head Count

3.5 creepy trees in the dessert out of 5

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Head Count poster 2019. full review on vanessasnonspoiler.scom
Produced by: Godmother Industries and distributed by Imagination Worldwide & Samuel Goldwyn Films
Head Count spoiler section with theories. Hisji Hisji Hisji, what does it mean?
Head Count movie Spoiler and theories section. Movie ending explained.

Head Count Movie + Hisji Poem + Spoiler and Explanation

HISJI HISJI HISJI HISJI HISJI

A Hisji is a vengeful thing 5 Times its name you never sing,

With skin pale white and eyes of green, it’s something you’ve already seen,

It’s here, it’s there,

It’s there, it’s here,

Provoke its form and disappear,

A Hisji is a vengeful thing 5 Times its name you never sing.

The chant from the film Head Count

Characteristics Of the Hisji

The website tells that the Hisji is a shifting creature that enacts a suicidal curse upon its victims. Neurotic and lonely and hides in plain sight. Once its name has been said five times, it is summoned and can’t be stopped. Its power comes from five.

The website Evan looks on then shows some cases where it’s believed a Hisji has been summoned and the results concern the Clarkson family in 2007 and Westboro sophomore boys in 2001. A link leads Evan to Hanna Clarkson’s blog where the story tells the following:

Hannah’s Blog Summary For the Head Count Movie

  • Hannah moved from Texas to Connecticut as a family of 5. They stay in a hotel prior to moving into their new house.
  • Hannah posts a photo of the new house three days later and remarks that there are more trees and it’s a nice neighborhood.
  • The family begins making the house their own and Hannah gets the biggest room as her brother will be leaving for college. She selects some new wallpaper and as they pull down the existing wallpaper Hannah sees the words HISJI HISJI HISJI HISJI HISJI written on the wood. She reports that her brother is away for the weekend.
  • Hannah writes that she has seen some footprints at the back of the house. She assumes they belong to the new gardener but remarks they are quite big.
  • The family is subjected to four blackouts since moving in. They all blame the heat and air conditioning. Subsequently, Hannah and her sister have been at the local pool where they have both seen a girl watching them playing together. The girl seems lonely.
  • A few days later Hanna writes how she heard five twigs snap while in the garden with her mother, saw five stones in a circle at the front door, and a drawing that included five scratch marks on the side of the house.
  • Hannah’s dad falls out of a window and is taken to the hospital. Her dad tells his family he didn’t fall.
  • In the garage, Hanna sees a stranger who doesn’t speak. She takes a photo of this person. Her last entry is on June 1st, a Friday.
  • Everyone in the family was last seen on June 1st except for Hannah. An unconfirmed report from a neighbor states she was seen in the front yard on June 2nd.

Family Goes Missing— Reported June 4th, a Monday

On June 4th, Hannah’s parents report the family missing after failing to turn up for a family gathering. Megan and Andrew Clarkson say they were unable to reach them by phone as the line is dead. Police reports say the house was empty but otherwise undisturbed. The case was closed when no further information could be discovered.

Snapshots taken by police note the oven door was left open and there was a distinct head depression in a cushion on the lounge.

Did You Spot?

The photo by the bed where Evan and Zoe’s sleep pictures a family of five. The family shows the same dynamic as Hannahs’s description, two sisters, a brother, mom, and dad.

Evan remarks that there is a ‘blonde girl’ missing as they head to the lookout. Just prior to this, as he walks bleary-eyed from his room a blonde girl is seen sitting in the lounge. Her hair is different from Camille’s who is also in the house. He says; “Goodmorning” to her as he wanders outside. The camera focuses on Evan but out of focus inside, the blonde, who we can assume is the Hisji looks towards him.

Just after this Evan ventures over to the disheveled building and before Zoe sneaks in to see what he’s up to, the camera shows the same blonde girl sitting behind him.

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