A group of locked up men must decide which one among them, must face the executioner and lose their head. The remaining men will then be set free - but exiled and condemned to a harsh life where even there, they'll probably parish in the colonies. Death only slower. The vote must be unanimous and even more? They only have one hour to decide.
"Heads" is a historical fiction based on the violence of religions and faith. Most of us know that religion can be a deadly game, especially during the middle ages. New religions, new faiths - the deaths of so many men can be dropped onto the doorstep of the church. Yet Jeffrey Tenney's film is about more. It's about people in general. A study into the minds of near any person, caught up in a dreadful situation. How even the most righteous person can fold under pressure. And how even the most selfish can, at times, rise above his moral expectations. "Heads" truly is about people over religious convictions. A study showcasing how fear can twist our minds, sometimes for the better but generally for the worse.
It's a true relief that Jeffrey Tenney managed to enlist such a talented cast. Why? Because "Heads" is almost completely dialog driven - and given that it all takes place in one room, a couple bad deliveries really could have killed this movie. Sure. Cramping everyone within a stone cell - of sorts - really adds a middle age flair to this film. But keeping us within these walls for over forty minutes, could have been just as lethal as the axe man himself. Thankfully, this troupe managed their lengthy dialog in a believable way. Their portrayal of Tenney's script not only kept this film watchable, but kept me interested enough to actually care. However, even fantastic acting couldn't change this movies biggest problem. The length.
This film is almost forty five minutes and all of it - takes place in a small room. No furnishings save a stump and some chains. No real visual eye candy at all. Only a few slit windows and the stone walls - that are actually pretty damn cool for the first ten minutes or so. However, even with some good acting under it's belt, that's not enough to keep "Heads" from getting... well... slightly winded.
The lack of scenery however, is not the main reason I found this film a little too long. It's the same thing I complimented the cast with above, the dialog. Or more to the point, the over-use of it. I don't mean it's acted bad, or even written bad. It's the general amount and the fact that most of it really wasn't needed. "Heads" repeats itself. A lot. Perhaps that's not even the right way to put it... maybe writing that a lot of unneeded content is present would be a better fit. In my humble opinion, this same movie - this same story - could have been done in fifteen or twenty minutes. There were very few points of discussion, that I found to be relevant to the progression of the film. Let me explain.
It's not that the amount of conversation didn't add to the character depth - just that when dealing with a single location, keeping things tight an on-point would have been better. I'm not exaggerating when I write this film could have been done in half the time. Lots of dialog cutting? Sure. But the story and characters would still have ample time to sell the concept. As they say in writing circles - if it has already been said in one way or another - cut it. If it doesn't directly progress the plot? Cut it. Remove the filler. This film deserves a much higher rating. It's all here. The concept and the acting are great. But the single room, and round and round nature of the film, simply made it hard to stay focused for the better part of an hour.
I've awarded "Heads" a three star rating. The cast kept things interesting enough to get me through the environmental repetition. Watching the changes in these people, through the cast portrayals, was a definite highlight. As I wrote above, had "Heads" been considerably shorter... you get the idea.