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Headspace
cast: Christopher Denholm, Olivia Hussey, William Atherton, Dee Wallace, and Udo Kier

director: Andrew van den Houten

89 minutes (18) 2005
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Metrodome DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by Jim Steel
It's a somewhat confused film, but then so is Alex (Christopher Denholm). His backstory is filled in with flashbacks throughout the film, in (largely failed) attempts to avoid giving the plot away too soon.

Two young brothers are celebrating a birthday with their parents at their country house. The camera zooms in on the cake, and big red splodges appear on it. Pan up to Mother (Sean Young), who is suffering from a nosebleed, which will have most British viewers thinking of The League Of Gentlemen. That night the boys discover Mother eating the family pet. Father decides to get them out of there, which unfortunately involves shooting mother. Cut to present day New York. Alex is not doing so well. He is seeing a psychiatrist (Olivia Hussey) and living in a cellar flat. However, one day, in Central Park, he discovers some chess players. Alex forms a bond with one of them, Harry (Erick Kastel), who is an artist living in a loft apartment. It doesn't take much for the viewer to work out that Harry is Alex's long-lost brother, although Alex seems not to realise it for a remarkably long time.

Alex also has remarkable powers. He is capable of absorbing the contents of books in seconds, which makes the games of chess more evenly balanced (there is much discussion of chess tactics, which suggests that the writer also boned up on some chess books while researching the script). However, Alex has nightmares, and creatures manifest themselves. They look like human-sized, wingless bats and much latex has been used in the costume. It is unclear if they are a figment of Alex's imagination or whether they are made manifest by him. The monsters are killing people, suggesting these monsters are real, but in other places Alex only sees them from his viewpoint when others see ordinary people.

This is effectively done when he turns up at the apartment of a couple that are amongst his few friends (and whose only other purpose in the film is to provide some softcore sex). He threatens to kill them and the direction efficiently cuts between his viewpoint and conventional reality. Of course, by this time he has already been on an adventure around town looking for individuals who could help him. Udo Keir is stunningly charismatic as a priest, but the priest is hopelessly useless to Alex. And after Dr Murphy (Hussey) recommends that he try the discredited Boris Pavlosky (Mark Margolis, chewing the scenery in a display that makes the monsters look restrained), he finds out that there is some pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo behind it all. Back during the cold war, the Soviets had experimented with people who seemed to exhibit those same genetic psychic abilities that Alex shows. And whenever more than one of those people were brought together... ah!

Headspace is not a bad film, but it can't make up its mind whether to go for the gut or to attempt to be something more cerebral and so fails on both counts. The cameos are a delight, which does serve to show up the patchiness of the film as a whole. A 'making of' documentary, a director's commentary and a trailer provide the extras.
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