Baghead – Movie Review
Baghead is a horror offering from a team of writers including Bryce Mcguire (of Night Swim fame), and directed by Alberto Corredor (of no real fame that I am aware). It is adapted from the original 2017 short of the same name.
The story is of a young women named Freya (played by Iris Lark) who inherits an old pub from her estranged father (Peter Mullan). But, as is par for the course in horror, the pub carries a terrible curse. Namely, there’s a hole in the basement (that oddly enough, is kinda shaped like Ireland) that hosts the ghostly Baghead. A woman with, you’ve guessed it, a bag over her head, who allows people to briefly communicate with the dead.
It is an interesting concept. Unfortunately, in the years since the shorts release, said concept has been used, and to better effect, in last years much superior Talk To Me.
From a technical standpoint, the move is pretty…okay. The special effects aren’t terrible, but you certainly wouldn’t mistake them for being practical. Thusly many scenes lack that certain bite that only practical effects (or exceptionally good CGI) can deliver.
In terms of the monster, there is nothing here, visually or aurally, that we haven’t seen or heard before. Finger snapping, wailing voices, eyes blackening. It’s pretty standard stuff, done adequately, but without much in the way of imagination or innovation. I certainly don’t see Baghead joining horror royalty as the next Jigsaw, or Leatherface, anytime soon.
The real selling point for a film such as this should be its emotional story and interesting characters, but sadly these appear sinfully underdeveloped.
I can’t say much about the actors performances, as it appears they were given little to work with. Characters often read aloud to themselves for the sake of exposition. Some dialogue is horrendously unnuanced, as if place holders lines were inserted into the script and never replaced. Certain character arcs feel rushed and unearned, while other roles are about as important to the plot as a classic red-shirt from Star Trek.
However, the main failing of Baghead is in the general concept of telling a coherent story through the media of film. It could conceivably be used as a cautionary tale for the importance in film of showing the audience, rather that telling them.
Baghead is littered with visual and audio inserts, haphazardly scattered throughout, as though to spoon feed the audience information that could, and should, have been conveyed more artistically. It’s glaringly obvious this was once a short, as the story seems padded out with superfluous scenes, stretched beyond its limit, in order to fill a runtime that the story really doesn’t warrant.
There are some really good moments. Moments that give a glimmer of hope that perhaps there is some genius behind everything. Sadly these are often sandwiched between jarringly noticeable failings. I get the distinct impression that the creators had some wonderful ideas, but things simply fell apart when trying to join the pieces together for a full length feature.
Would I recommend Baghead to an audience? Possibly, to hardcore horror fans. But even then, with would caveat that expectations should be low. There are some decent jumps scares, which is the least you can expect from a modern horror. But without a decent story to back it up, you might as well have someone in the seat behind you banging pots and pans together when you least expect it. Sure, it makes you jump, but it doesn’t give any lasting sense of fear or dread.
RATING = 2* out of 5.0
- Directed by: Alberto Corredor
- Written by: Christina Pamies, Bryce McGuire, Lorcan Reilly
- Starring: Freya Allan, Jeremy Irvine, Ruby Barker
- Run Time: 1hr 34min.
- Released: January 26th, 2024
Review by Ross McCarthy, Dublin based screenwriter and stand-up comedian.