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‘DeadHead:’ Short Film Review

DeadHead, which had its premiere recently at Dances With Films, is a horror short about gardening and revenge – but also about so much more. At times it’s bloody, at times it’s cheesy, and at its best it’s both, but no matter what, it’s always fun.

As we open, Wendy (T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh), the sweetest person you’ve ever met, is working in her garden and pricks her finger on the thorn of a strange and interesting plant. The sinister plant sends something sinister into her bloodstream, and much of the rest of the film is spent in morbid anticipation, gleefully waiting for whatever it is to manifest itself.

Once she’s through with gardening, Wendy heads to work, where she’s summoned to the office of her boss, John (Taylor Lee Mar). John is the sort of person who will call you into his office to fire you by putting a Post-It Note on your computer—and drawing a smiley face on it. Wendy is the type of person who will fold that Post-It Note into a flower to give to her friend, Beth (Anastasia Washington).

Beth is the one worthwhile person in Wendy’s life. She’s there for Wendy when she needs her, to take care of her in crisis, to let her know when their boss is being a prick (which is always) and to encourage her to stand up for herself. That’s never been Wendy’s strong suit. But the more she’s pushed by the people around her, the more something starts bubbling to the surface.

That bubbling manifests itself in all sorts of fun ways—some cathartic and some gross. Either way, though, it’s fun to watch, as whatever has taken hold of Wendy gradually builds to a peak. When the peak finally happens, you’ll never see it coming—or at least I didn’t—but it’s immensely fun to watch.

Writer/director Virginia Powers Hendry has crafted a great film that’s suspenseful, funny, and tons of fun. Inspired by classic slasher and creature feature films, Hendry seeks to turn familiar dynamics on their head. Instead of the innocent woman being a helpless victim of whatever horrors are flung at her, in DeadHead, she IS the horror—which empowers her against the horrible but not supernatural people who have tried to make her the victim.

It’s a great concept and a great execution which is given an extra layer of depth by the brilliant cast. In particular, the driving force is T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh, as she gradually evolves from sweet, shy, and unassuming, to… something else. She can also turn on a dime from apologizing to the man who’s walking on her flower bed to threatening his manhood in no uncertain terms.

Anastasia Washington makes the perfect counterpart to Keymáh. Beth is everything that Wendy isn’t: confident, assertive, and just a bit mean, but only to those who deserve it. And then, of course, there’s Taylor Lee Mar as John. Thoroughly reprehensible and gleefully sleazy, he’ll give you the biggest fake smile as he stabs you in the back, then smile even bigger as he stabs you in the front. He’s clearly having a great time in the role.

In fact, everyone in the film looks to be having a great time which is what makes it so fun to watch. The film is over the top and even a bit corny in places, but that’s part of its charm. If you’re a horror fan and love stories of cathartic revenge, you’ll love DeadHead.

Creative Team: Virginia Powers Hendry (writer/director), Miguel Lima (producer), Ben Rock (producer/editor), Will Barratt (director of photography)
Click here to learn more.

Steven W. Alloway, Fanbase Press Contributor


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