‘In Hollywood, everyone wears a mask…’
Headshots is a 2018 American horror thriller feature film directed by Chris O’Neill from a screenplay co-written with Rochelle Carino. The Chape Works production stars Nika Khitrova, Ana Lopes, Olivia Castanho and Guile Branco.
An aspiring British actress moves to Los Angeles to become a star, only to cross paths with a serial killer using her acting class to find victims…
Reviews [may contain spoilers]:
“Passable LA-set, UK-produced horror-thriller that successfully pulls off an impressively complex structure and an end-of-act-one narrative switcheroo.” British Horror Revival
“Headshots has a handful of issues due to technical flaws and a supporting cast that is not always up to the task. However, the leads do an excellent job, and the editing is sublime. The drama and the horror deliver in a big way, and the mystery behind the killer’s motivations is engaging.” Film Threat
“Overall, Headshots is an indie thriller that is competently directed, has a solid concept but is severely hindered by lack of budget, poor editing across the board and wooden acting which is a real shame. Although that is the case, O’Neill should still be commended for his filmmaking efforts.” Starbust
“The creators have a recurring commentary on the cruelness of L.A.’s acting scene, which turns into a bloodbath. The film has its moments, but it’s not exactly memorable. It is more complex than most productions of its caliber, and it is divisive.” Tales of Terror
“Headshots is a film that doesn’t unfold the way you expect. It’s not afraid to kill off characters you think are central to the plot. Nor is it afraid to change up the film’s entire style when needed. This keeps the first half of the film wildly unpredictable while it sets up the conclusion.” Voices from the Balcony
The movie was released on Amazon and other VOD channels in October 2019.
British filmmaker Chris O’Neill and his producer wife Rochelle Carino decided to create a horror-thriller that served as a cautionary tale to young women trying to get into the entertainment industry.
Having lived in LA for several years, O’Neill had observed the way many actors on the grind would casually throw regular caution to the wind, going to auditions and headshot photography sessions alone to meet with complete strangers.
Weaving that in with the alarmingly high missing person stats for Los Angeles County and the city’s nomadic nature or people passing through, they felt there was an opportunity to create a disturbing and extreme film that had something to say about the vulnerability of young women in Hollywood.
O’Neill, a second-time writer-director and Academy Nicholl Fellowship screenwriting finalist, focussed on the predators at the edges of Hollywood, preying on the new arrivals.
This wasn’t the Hollywood of studio films and TV shows, but the vast world of people on the grind trying to get into the party. Casting was done using popular website LA Casting, with actors submitting self-tapes followed by an in-person meeting with the filmmakers.
Filming began in and around Los Angeles at locations chosen to reflect the real-life neighbourhoods where actors live while on the make. Carino, a professional wardrobe designer, worked on the outfits and custom made several costumes.
A talented FX team were assembled to handle the kills, along with prosthetics, while Hollywood props house New Rule FX supplied gallons of blood and the murder weapons. The cast and crew were predominantly female.
Despite the film taking place in LA, there is a large British factor at its core, highlighting the outsider element, with Emmy and Tom’s characters looking at LA through a singularly British lens.
O’Neill wanted LA to appear nightmarishly beautiful, setting many of the creepy set pieces and murders in the often blown out Southern California sunshine and often behind closed doors, with the film only going into night time for the final act, where all bets are off on what character might do what to whom.
The film was self-financed by the husband and wife team, with O’Neill responsible for creating the trailer and poster.
Headshots premiered in December 2018 at the Culver City Film Festival, screening at the Cinemark XD Howard Hughes Center.
Cast and characters:
- Nika Khitrova … Jaime Donovan
- Ana Lopes … Red
- Olivia Castanho … Emmy Donovan
- Guile Branco … Dragan Dragotti
- Noelle Wheeler … Melody
- Isabella Marie Egizi … Harmony
- Darian Michael Garey … Detective Gibson
- Thomas Ohrstrom … Mason Cooper
- Chris O’Neill … Tom Donovan
- Alison Iles … Carly
- Graham Selden … Lars
- Christina De La Ossa … Virginia Taft
- Dani Savka … Laura
- Nick Howell … Creeper
Los Angeles, California
89 minutes | High definition