Baghead 2024
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94 min.
Release Date
Baghead (2024) poster

“This property comes with a special terror,” warns Peter Mullan, who plays the late owner of a pub in which an evil presence lurks. Setting the mood, nothing in Baghead comes so close to the imposing sound of Mullan’s distinct, gravelly voice, and its ominous warning. Not to be confused with the Duplass brothers’ 2008 mumblegore effort of the same name, this British supernatural chiller shares some similarities to last year’s indie hit Talk to Me. In the basement of The Queen’s Head, a dusty old building Mullan’s character bequeaths to his estranged daughter, Iris (Freya Allan), there is a brick wall with a large opening. Inside lurks an ancient something-or-other that, when given an object belonging to someone deceased, will transform into the dead person for two minutes—just enough time for the living to say goodbye or find closure. Any more than that, and the creepy presence toys with its user, haunting them like any number of specters from J-horror and Blumhouse fare. If only Iris hadn’t signed that evil contract on ancient paper when she accepted the place. It’s a good concept for a horror movie, but the filmmakers don’t offer much by way of characters, fun, or scares to delight the viewer. 

As the story continues, the economically desperate Iris behaves as though she has a death wish, robbing her of any credibility. She quickly learns the boogeywoman in her new property’s basement could be lucrative, and, ignoring her friend’s (Ruby Barker) warnings, she resolves to exploit it until she makes enough for a fresh start. According to a VHS cassette left by her father, the demon must obey Iris, yet he suggests she should just ignore it. Instead, Iris ignores his advice and rushes headlong into the monster’s game. However, she does so without enough backstory to justify her self-destructive actions, aside from perhaps her financial woes. Enter Neil (Jeremy Irvine), who’s desperate to speak to his dead wife. The manic widower offers Iris a wad of cash for the chance. When ready, the zombie-like figure emerges from the hole, her head covered with burlap, save for a small opening for one eye. After being tied down, she removes the sack and takes on the appearance of Neil’s wife. But the grievously underdeveloped Iris, hoping for some economic freedom, inevitably breaks her father’s series of rules—no more than two minutes, don’t trust her, don’t go into the hole—and finds herself in trouble. 

With Baghead, the writers (Christina Pamies and Bryce McGuire) and director Alberto Corredor expand their 15-minute short film from 2017 into a compendium of tired horror tropes, thin characters, and predictable twists and scares. Apart from an effective jump or two, nothing about this programmer amounts to much, and its variations on familiar themes feel uninspired and unexceptionally executed. Iris wanders around in the pub’s inadequately lit spaces, investigating strange sounds at night with only a smartphone light or lantern to guide her. She finds the occasional freaky image—like her father peeling his face away to reveal a burlap head underneath—but these are momentary distractions. Such sequences have been shot with clarity by cinematographer Cale Finot; still, it’s a routine that audiences have seen before, and better, elsewhere. Debuting in the US on horror-themed streamer Shudder, Baghead might play better as a late-night affair, where a sleepy viewer might overlook the generally uninspired writing and lack of character dimensions for the movie’s basic ability to prompt a jolt. 

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