Synopsis: Haunting and horrific, surreal and shocking, Horsehead is a new horror-fantasy that pays tribute to the classic European shockers of Dario Argento and Mario Bava, while also remaining a unique film with its own vision, delivering unforgettable images that both disturb and enchant. Director Romain Basset’s tale follows beautiful young Jessica (Lilly-Fleur Pointeaux) as she returns to her family’s countryside estate for her grandmother’s funeral. Haunted by recurring nightmares of a horse-headed monster, Jessica attempts to put her studies of “lucid dreaming” to good use, as she semi-consciously navigates through this dream landscape, trying to discover the secrets behind this sinister apparition. But Jessica must also cope with a hostile mother (The Beyond’s Catriona MacColl), and the growing realization that the death of her grandmother was actually a suicide triggered by the woman’s past traumas and visions. Horsehead is a feverish, ethereal journey through the world of nightmares.
Fu'ad Aït Aattou
Fantasporto International Film Festival - Portugal - 2015
Best Director (Romain Basset)
Fantastic Fest - USA - 2014
Sitges Film Festival - Spain - 2014
"Horsehead is more like the UK dream terror Paperhouse than A Nightmare on Elm Street as it follows one particular girl plagued by horrific dreams. Anyone interested in the power of dreams who has been either woken up by a profound image or ripped from a particularly fascinating dream will be interested in this imaginative and vividly made study of what goes on when we sleep. The nightmarish and surreal imagery at play in Horsehead is breathtaking to witness. From gothic atmosphere to twisted Freudian sex, the film really does run the gamut in regards to the horrors once can experience inside the dream realm in our heads when the mind is often most honest and free of the shackles and responsibilities of reality and consequence. Writer/director Romain Basset fills this film with imagery that walks the border between the beautiful and the horrific, filming the scenes of dream with colorful lighting, atmospheric backdrops, twisted images, and soft and harsh focus—just like a dream itself, shifting from one extreme to another.
The young lead actress playing Jessica (Lilly-Fleur Pointeaux) is a fantastic find—a fresh faced beauty with a lot of talent. But she is but one of the talented cast assembled here for Horsehead. Well acted, gorgeously and nightmarishly executed, and excellently realized, Horsehead offers a look at dreams like few other films have before. I highly recommend this gothic descent into terrifying nightmare.
"French director Romain Basset provides no easy answers in Horsehead, his feature directorial debut. Relying heavily on its arthouse sensibilities, the film uses trippy, often expressionist dream sequences...Basset’s film as a whole positively seeps with dread. An oppressive soundtrack drenches the seemingly mundane – a family dinner, a doorframe which is just too black – in crawling terror. Basset familiarizes the viewer with innocuous objects before throwing them into a different context, making a teddy bear or Jessica’s metronome truly nightmarish. What he refuses to do is announce the scares with loud, jumpy leaps in the soundtrack. Early on in the film, a terrifying apparition is glimpsed looming over Jessica, with no aural cue to make the viewer jump. The brief moment is all the more unsettling for its stillness.
What Basset has managed with a meagre $200,000 budget is remarkable. Locations are used to their maximum potential and the FX work fits the mood perfectly. Striking images sear themselves into the mind, and will surely come back at the viewer days later. More discerning audiences together with a focus on more visual and stylistic influences are pushing horror in an exciting direction, and Romain Basset is a talent to watch."