I don’t know if I ever told you this, but I’ve never been much of a fan of summer. Especially not with the recent heatwave making you feel like you are a hamburger that has been overdone on a barbeque. Yes I know, that was maybe the weirdest comparison you may have ever heard, but I always like to surprise people. Anyways, it goes without saying that since I’m no fan of summer, winter is more my thing. I love spending time in bed during those days, under the covers with a good television show or a novel, while the temperature outside is dropping below the freezing point. Or even better when there is a storm brewing. So does that mean I would one day maybe like to visit the Antarctic? Well…even I have my limits I guess, although I do have to say that the scenery there has certainly been the backdrop of many a great movie. Take The Thing for instance. One of my alltime favorite horror/science fiction films, it’s set on a remote research station in the Antarctic. With the temperature outside rapidly declining and a strange monster that can take on the form of pretty much anyone stalking the researchers, paranoia is soon growing rampant.
So what does all this have to do with The Head? And maybe an even better question might be, what exactly is The Head? Well, to start with the last question first, it’s a new six part miniseries that just got released on Amazon Prime. It’s also got more than a few erm things with the Thing in common, except for the fact that this isn’t a horror show, and there is no disgusting alien creature running loose. Just like in John Carpenter’s classic the action takes place at a polar research station which is named Polaris VI. There is a dark six month winter about to set in, and so most of the researchers have packed up and left, leaving only a skeleton crew behind to keep the station up and running. But then suddenly communications with the station stop. Johan whose wife Annika is amongst the people that stayed at the station, is sent back with a small group to investigate what has happened. When they arrive back at Polaris VI they are shocked to find a scene of utter mayhem. Soon blood and bodies are found, and the base itself displays scenes of violence. Just when they think no one is left alive, they find Maggie Mitchell, the station’s young doctor in total shock.
Johan desperate to discover what fate has befallen his wife, her body not being amongst the casualties, tries to get Maggie to talk. She begins to haltingly tell her tale. An incredible one at that, as apparently a serial killer has been killing off the scientist one by one. But for what reason? To make matters even more confusing, a second survivor named Arthur Wilde is found, who is quick to warn Johan about Maggie. He tells him she is not to be trusted, and isn’t who she says she is. But who can Johan believe? And is the killer still there? With a stormfront heading in, and time running out for Johan’s wife, Johan had better decide quickly, or all is lost…..I have to say that I really enjoyed this little murder mystery series. It doesn’t reinvent the genre in any way, but it has good all around performances, a nice setting, and a story that has quite a few of those wonderful moments where you think you know what’s going on, only to discover that you don’t. While Maggie relates her tale to Johan, as a viewer you are treated to a series of flashbacks that show what has occurred. But that’s just the thing…is it the truth or is Maggie lying through her teeth? I found that to be one of the most fun aspects of the series, as you are constantly left guessing and trying to find out clues if the young woman’s tale isn’t some kind of fabrication.
Most of the dialogue of this show is spoken in English, apart from a few scenes where Johan who is Danish, speaks to a colleague. Speaking of Johan, he is played by actor Alexandre Willaume, and I quite liked his performance. You can certainly connect with him as he is desperate to find the whereabouts of his wife, while at the same just as the viewers is trying to piece together the truth. It has to be said though that the best role was played by actress Katharine O’Donnelly as the vulnerable Maggie. It’s a difficult part to pull off, as she is both a very sympathetic character while at the same time, because of the doubts that are cast her way, you do often wonder if her tale really is the truth. And even more impressive is the fact that she hasn’t really been acting for very long yet, having appeared in only 3 other things besides this series. She certainly could have fooled me, as she played the role as if she were a veteran actress. The rest of the cast is made up of a pretty international ensemble, including actor Tomohisa Yamashita, who is apparently quite a celebrity in his native Japan.
The pacing of The Head is quite good, and right from the start there is this chilling (no pun intended) atmosphere that pulls you in. During the course of the six episodes it doesn’t become boring at any point and this is a show that is perfect to finish off in one weekend, since it’s only six episodes long. There is nothing really noteworthy to be negative about. One could argue that not all of the performances from the cast are equally strong, and I guess that’s true. Still, it doesn’t detract you in any way from trying to put all the pieces together of this murder mystery. While it might also be true that this certainly isn’t the most original story and it probably reminds you of quite a few others, it’s still done quite well. It has a very satisfying conclusion that leaves no open plotlines which is definitely important. All in all The Head is a fun series, perfect for people that love to put their brains to use and play detective. Or for people that are fed up with the warm weather and are longing for the cold….like me.
I give The Head a 8 out of 10 score.