Synapse // 2006 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 19th, 2009
What's a header?
You don't want to know.
In the backwoods of your local redneck hellhole exists a family feud like no other. These douchebags have been warring with each other for years and now a corrupt ATF Agent (Jake Suffian) is dragged into it. See, he's just trying to investigate an illegal moonshine operation, and maybe make some money on the side by messing around with drug dealers. Instead, he ends up launching an impromptu murder investigation, when a series of hillbilly women turn up dead, the backs of their heads hollowed out and...again, you don't want to know.
This "header" thing is pretty much the most vile crap I've seen. Kids, I have endured a lot of eye trauma over the course of my tenure at the Verdict, but there isn't much -- aside from the Doodlebops -- I can point to that is more f-ed up than the central shock gag of Header. It's so bad I'm not even going to repeat it. Google search if you must, but you'll get nothing else from me.
Here's the thing: the film is built completely around the shocking nature of its namesake and that's really all there is to it. Judging by the hyperbolic proclamations of how relentlessly gory the movie was, I was going into this expecting a blood and guts experience up to Peter Jackson standards. That's not the case. Aside from a weird flashback in the beginning -- when one of the rednecks regales his grandpa about stabbing some guy in the eyeball with a shiv (and we see it) -- the gore is limited purely to the...echhh...header stuff. So, if you're craving a non-stop festival of blood spillage, you won't get it here.
The story is a hollow affair. Following this ATF Agent guy, as he tries to get to the bottom of what a header is, it eventually builds to what we know is coming, yet still doesn't make an atom of sense. Bloodthirsty hillbillies are always good for shock value, but the heavies were underwhelming, save for their one grotesque hobby.
There's really not much to this film. The 90 minute runtime strikes me as bloated for the simple story being told, which would have been served better as a short film. Then again, if you merely want to subject your self to some messed-up @#$%, there's not much I can recommend beyond binge drinking ipecac, to get the bile rising in the back of your mouth. The "header" is that whacked.
The DVD is serviceable, starting with a decent 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and a 2.0 stereo mix. Extras: behind-the-scenes featurettes, including interviews with the director and Edward Lee, author of the book the film is based upon; something I never want to read.
Header is an exercise in one-time shock value. It's like getting struck by lightning, only not nearly as enjoyable.
Guilty. Please disappear into the woods. Now.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated