The moral of the story: Don’t use the internet, it’s evil.
Evan (Isaac Jay) is a college kid on spring break looking for love and adventure. Careful what you wish for, my lad.
Instead of Lake Havasu, he heads for Joshua Tree to crash with his older brother Peyton (Cooper Rowe), and maybe bond over some hiking and camping.
Rather than pitch a tent, Evan ditches his brother at the first opportunity and falls in with a bunch of bohemian millennials renting a nearby house. Seeing attractive folks his own age that party all night is sufficient temptation for Evan, especially the beguiling Zoe (Ashleigh Morghan), a photographer currently without a boyfriend.
Scenes of low-key hedonism (weed, shrooms, booze) are followed by everyone gathered around the ol’ campfire for ghost stories. Since Evan doesn’t know one, he is directed to a website where he mistakenly recites a summoning spell for a shapeshifting demon.
Editor’s Note: Check and verify your sources, people! How dumb do you have to be to read an incantation that warns you not to say a certain name out loud? What hayseed community college do these nitwits attend?
None of them are going to have to worry about graduation requirements, if it’s any consolation.
The malevolent entity called a hsijie can appear to look like anyone and even these inebriated dorks begin to notice that various members of their group seem to have gained the ability to be in two places at once.
This is called a clue, and Evan is the only one present who picks up on it. The carefree weekend takes on a distinctly ominous tone after pretty Zoe walks off a cliff and injures her ankle.
Did she jump or was she pushed?
Other than Evan and Camille (Bevin Bru), the rest of the group can’t be bothered to examine the evidence that’s all around them, preferring beer pong and Never Have I Ever to thoughts of self-preservation.
Head Count succeeds as a low-budge (but not to its detriment) thriller with a nifty paranormal threat that remains largely out of sight. Even so, writer-director Elle Callahan (Witch Hunt) brings tensions to a boil with strategically placed pointers amidst all the scenes of collegiate cavorting that inevitably ensue when the parents are out of town.
I told you kids! No parties! You’re all grounded.
Six feet deep.