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[film review]: Baghead (2024)

A white woman with blonde hair with a long fingered hand on her shoulder

Baghead (2023) is a feature film directed by Alfredo Corredor and adapted from his short film of the same name. The premise surrounds a young woman Iris (portrayed by Freya Allan) who has inherited an old pub, one that she quickly learns comes with a terrifying tenant with mysterious powers. 

The film opens on Iris’s father, Owen (Peter Mullan), who has a brief exchange with a young man, whom we later learn is Neil (Jeremy Irvine). Neil passes an envelope across the bar to a disinterested Owen and asks “can I please see her?”. Owen quickly shuts him down and makes Neil leave before making his way down to the basement of the pub. The camera dwells on the door to the basement which is covered in suspicious markings resembling some form of runic language. We catch glimpses of a person restrained in a chair as Owen talks about bringing an end to it all by igniting a fire. This is our first glimpse of the powers person in the chair possesses as the fire is then directed towards Owen who flees up the stairs before dying at the threshold of the basement. The camera focuses on a hole in the basement brick wall before fading to black. 

The film then cuts to Iris and her friend Katie (Ruby Baxter) who we see sneaking into an apartment to put some belongings into a bag. It transpires that Iris has been evicted from the apartment and now has nowhere to stay. After leaving the apartment Iris answers a phone call and after hanging up informs Katie that she just learned her dad has died. Katie responds incredulously with “you told me your dad had already died” to which Iris responds with “well, yep, now he is”. I thought this was an incredibly clever use of dialogue and character building, through this brief exchange we have learned that Iris has had a complicated relationship with her father and that she has a tough life. This sets up the rest of the film as Iris wants to learn both why her father left her, as well as why she is reluctant to leave the building that is the location of the horror – she has nowhere else to call home. 

I went into this film assuming it would be a mystery that Iris attempts to solve, so I was surprised that we quickly discover that the tenant in the basement is a mysterious woman who has a battered woven bag on her head.  Through Neil, Iris learns that the woman in the basement has the ability to temporarily take the form of a dead person. As the film progresses there are more “rules” learned about the mysterious woman’s powers, most of these gained via a recording on a video tape which has been left by her father for the next owner of the pub. The film builds tension well in the scenes that involve the mysterious woman’s powers. When we know little about the woman’s powers, the tension comes from having no idea what to expect, whereas when we gain more knowledge, the tension comes from the characters choosing to ignore the rules or to try and push their boundaries. There were numerous times during the film’s running time where I found myself jumping in my seat, or squirming at how the tension was building. The scares are clever and executed well, which is an appreciated departure from the typical ‘quiet-quiet-LOUD’ scares we have become acquainted with in horror. 

Despite its strengths, one issue with this film  involved the relationship between Iris and Katie. It felt like the film could not decide if Iris and Katie were close friends, or if they were sapphic lovers. The refusal to commit to either friends or lovers leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to their characterisation, resulting in a lack of clarity which directly impacts the final act of the film. Another issue throughout the film revolves around the dialogue and narrative, with the delivery of the lore that surrounds the woman in the basement being too much of an info-dump word vomit causing it to feel rushed. Then to compound things further, the woman’s actions at times seem to contradict her backstory, which only left me frustrated as I had more unanswered questions by the time the film ended. The closing act was definitely when I found myself more than once thinking “this would have been better as a short film”, and not because what I had watched so far was poorly made, but rather that I did not think the concept had the strength for a full feature length film. 

Ultimately, Alfredo Corredor’s Baghead (2023) is a film that has a really unique concept which for the most part is utilised in really inventive ways and having a strong central performance in Freya Allan’s Iris helps elevate this film even further. Will this film enter into horror fan’s future comfort watch rotations? Only time can tell, but this is definitely a film I would encourage horror fans to check out. Regardless of its issues, the film excels in its moments of creating effective horror set pieces.

3 Screams out of 5

Written by Mx Bel Morrigan


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