I picked up Baghead from my local pawnshop on a whim and based on its 2 dollar price tag, which even if I hated the movie, I couldn’t beat the price.
“Four struggling actors retreat to a cabin in Big Bear, California in order to write a screenplay that will make them all stars. Problem is: What happens when their story idea — a horror flick about a group of friends tormented by a villain with a bag over his head — starts to come true?”
Based on the description of the film on the back of the DVD cover and the great reviews from some well respected sites and film festivals, I was under the assumption that this would be a parody of low budget horror films. I was aware of the name of the Duplass Brothers but I had never seen any of their films, so I had no idea what type of movie I was in store for.
From the start of the movie, it is very apparent that this is low budget, and the style of film making reflects that. It has the feel of something art-house, with random zooms, shaky camera work (but not in the vain of Blair Witch where we are seeing the film through a first person perspective). Minutia is also the word of the hour here. We do see so much of the daily grind that these people go through and around three fourths of the way through the film, I was starting to wonder just what the hell was going on.
The Duplass Brothers do a great job of character development. I honestly felt invested in the characters (I even related very much to the situation and one of the characters specifically) and found them all very flawed, but quite likeable. I started thinking that I didn’t want to see any of the cast die, but as I “knew” this was going to be a horror parody, someone was bound to buy the farm sooner or later.
It is at about the 70 minute mark that we finally get into the horror elements of the film. The Duplass Brothers create some surprisingly tense moments as we start to get the sense that Baghead may actually be real. However this doesn’t last long as the real purpose of the film starts to become evident.
Without trying to spoil the film, this is not a horror movie nor is it truly a parody of horror films either. In that respect I felt deeply cheated. For this, I don’t blame the filmmakers. I blame Sony who distributed the film. It is obvious that they really didn’t know what they had or how to market it properly, but in Sony’s defense, I have no idea how it would have been honestly marketed without spoiling the film either.
At the end of the day, what we end up with is an amazingly genuine character piece with some light comedy that happens to center around a horror-like topic. And I stress the word GENUINE. It felt incredibly honest to me. The actors turn in amazing performances making the characters they play feel like real people, not cookie cutter stock that you would find in any big budget film. I could guess that anyone who watched this film will find someone that they can relate to in their own lives.
Is this horror… no. Not at all, and for this reason alone, considering the audience that this review will reach, I cannot in good conscious recommend this film. In that respect, I can only give this 1/10 stars. However if you are a fan of independent films and honest human drama with a dry sense of humor, you will find a lot to love in this film.