Saturday, 19 June 2010


A long-haired man, topless and bleeding, looks in agony towards a light as the credits roll in for Khavn’s Headless (Pugot). The man is seen intermittently throughout the film as he wanders through the streets of a Filipino town in the early hours, blood streaming from his crotch as if he had been castrated. Most of the screentime however is dedicated to the squabbles of a married couple, the wife on display as her artist husband hides behind the camera interrogating her. They discuss the ethical issues behind eating pork, the fine lines between pornography and art, and the science of nightmares. As both stories gradually deteriorate, the viewer is left to question how closely connected they are.

There is an unusual feeling of the underground with Headless. Both ‘stories’ show the viewer private aspects of the characters’ lives, and the film’s home movie shooting style, combined with the almost imperceptible narrative structure, lend it an uncomfortable realism. Though it may be an obtuse comparison to make, the film occasionally outdoes the likes of Paranormal Activity and Cloverfield in generating intensity from the first-person perspective, and is far more believable than either of the two. One is also reminded of Michael Haneke’s oeuvre, the true drama taking place in the imagined spaces between scenes. This is not to give Headless too much credit as a lot more could have been said in its hour-long runtime, but anyone looking for a modern underground film would do well to seek it out.

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