Movie Review: ‘Baghead’


Director: Mark and Jay Duplass

Cast: Ross Partridge, Steve Zissis, Greta Gerwig, Elise Muller

Plot: A group of aspiring film-makers visit an isolated cabin to workshop a horror script only to be stalked by a masked killer.

Review: This 2008 movie turned up during a scroll through Shudder, and I needed some background noise while marking exam papers. Looked like just the ticket, and fortunately I didn’t see the barrage of terrible reviews left by other subscribers. Some claimed that it wasn’t enough of a horror movie to be on the horror dedicated streaming service. I would argue that it’s horror adjacent. It’s on the topic of horror more than it’s a horror movie. No-one complains about documentaries about horror movies being on the service.

Anyway.

Baghead, as it turns out, is a mumblecore film. This style of film-making hit it’s peak in the 2000s, while mainstream cinema was having an identity crisis, and mostly concerns young adults being depressed and talking about their first world problems. What separates out a good mumblecore is the authenticity of the characters. If you can be convinced that their inane conversations ring true, then the film has made a connection. Baghead succeeds in this to a degree. A bunch of film student types having an awkward love triangle engages enough to become invested in how it plays out, even if they are all some degree of asshole. It’s not as easy to emotionally resonate with characters are simply unlikeable. Whilst the relationship drama rings authentic, the attempts to come up with horror movies is less so. It often feels more like a contrived reason to move the plot forward.

Eventually the fiction of their generic slasher movie finds fresh inspiration when a man masked with a bag over his head start tormenting the group. We never get into real horror territory, but get a mild bit of a mystery plot as we are left to find out if the killer is really out there and who it is. Eventually we get a reveal that ends the film somewhat anti-climatically.

The only other aspect of note is the surprising of Greta Gerwig in one of the lead roles. Whilst we wouldn’t have been familiar with her at the time of release of Baghead, she has certainly become a known film-maker since. Her most recent hits are the high acclaimed Ladybird and Little Women. It’s fun seeing earlier work of renown film-makers as they made their way up in the industry.

Rating: SIX out of TEN