Baghead – Film Review

In Berlin, Germany an older man named Owen Lark (Peter Mullan) owns a rundown pub named The Queen’s Head. On a gloomy night he attempts to purposefully burn down his establishment, spurning his specialised clientele and a particularly odd woman who resides in his basement. Unfortunately for Owen and his daughter, he fails.

In England, young artist Iris Lark (Freya Allan), currently homeless and staying with her friend Katie (Ruby Barker) learns her estranged father has died. She travels to Berlin and with nothing else to her name, happily takes ownership of The Queen’s Head. She doesn’t even get one night’s rest in her sparsely lit abode before being awoken by a stranger named Neil (Jeremy Irvine). A desperate man willing to pay anything to talk to the woman in Iris’ unexplored basement. A woman simply called Baghead.

This horrific shape shifting entity can take the form of a deceased loved one for two minutes, after which Baghead regains control. Iris, like her father before her, seeks to exploit the creature and its supernatural power for personal gain. As owner of the building Baghead seems to obey Iris… to a point, because the longer Iris tries to control this being, the more it controls her back. With the help of Katie, Iris must now find a way to escape the clutches of Baghead‘s power before it consumes her and everyone she knows.

Baghead is directed by Alberto Corredor and is based on an acclaimed 2017 short film which he also directed. It seems the latest in a series of similar horror film adaptations of short movies. For instance, Bryce McGuire who had a hand in this film’s screenplay just adapted his own short film to feature length in last month’s ‘Night Swim’.

However, unlike ‘Night Swim’ and many other similar short film adaptations, Baghead never feels like an idea stretched too far in the process. Quite the opposite in fact, the concept and story of Baghead feels strong enough to carry a film much longer than its relatively short 94 minute timeframe.

The curse and tormented characters at the centre of Baghead are intriguing from the word go. The film is similar to other haunting films such as the recently released ‘Talk To Me’. Beyond the macabre horror elements, it is extremely interesting seeing the character Baghead‘s ability to revive the dead approached as an addiction, something which Iris at first dabbles in only for monetary gain before “getting high on her own supply”, so to speak. By the time Iris attempts to pull away, she finds Baghead has her claws dug in deep and refuses to let go.

I would prefer the film had a more set understanding and focus to the extent or limits of Baghead‘s power as a supernatural being. Throughout the feature, the entity both obeys and disobeys Iris, sometimes the two minute limit is a strict cut-off point and other times, it is not. The “rules” feel very loosely adhered to with Baghead usually doing whatever she wants for the sake of the film’s plot or to generate scares.

It is in the scares that this movie stands tall however, and it is definitely an example of less is more. Some of the genuinely creepier moments come across through subtle means. The entity moving closer to a character in between shots or unexpected moments of body horror as it contorts and twists in unnatural ways. It was these moments where Corredor‘s direction had my hair standing up on end in fright.

It’s a little disappointing then that some of Baghead‘s uniquely effective creepiness is offset by a cliched approach in lighting and sound design. Extremely loud stingers accompany frightening moments, sometimes it works but often it feels like a cheap jump scare. Likewise, the dim lighting of The Queen’s Head feels altogether artificial, like it has been touched up too much in post-production. To such an extent that as Iris shines her phone’s torch around a room it barely illuminates anything.

Despite these negatives I must say Baghead is an interesting horror film with some good twists, plenty of scares and many great ideas. Baghead isn’t always effectively executed but it succeeds in ways that other short films expanded to feature length do not, making it a must see for scary movie fans looking for a fun night at the cinema.

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