A young woman inherits a pub with a bag-headed death whisperer hiding in the basement. Here’s our Baghead review.
Horror is a tricky genre. I’m firmly in the camp that thinks that horror doesn’t always have to be scary, in the conventional sense. I’m not always looking for being frightened, but I do want to be challenged, uncomfortable or at the very least, entertained. If a horror film isn’t scary, it has to evoke something else in me, whether that’s through the spectacle of violence or crawling under my skin otherwise.
I’m also a big defender of jump scares. When done well, they can be very effective and there’s definitely skill and artistry involved with them. There’s plenty of really bad jumpscares, of course, but when a genuinely surprising moment makes you jump out of your skin, the euphoria after is quite unmatched.
It brings me absolutely no pleasure to report that Baghead, Alberto Corredor’s new horror film, did nothing for me. Not a single jump scare got me, I was not scared nor did I feel like the film was challenging me on any level, thematically or narratively.
The film follows young Iris (Freya Allan) who inherits an old, rundown pub in Berlin. Iris, in desperate need of a roof over her head and some cash, moves in and discovers a disturbing creature in the pub’s basement. The titular Baghead, a creature with a bag over its head, is able to grant you two minutes with a dead loved one if you offer it something of theirs.
Jeremy Irvine’s Neil arrives on Iris’ doorstep, begging her to let him talk to his dead wife but his arrival sets in motion a series of events and incidents that could destroy Iris’ life.
Firstly, the premise feels a little too similar to last year’s Talk To Me, in which a bunch of young people also communicated with the dead with disastrous consequences. We’ve always been fascinated with the afterlife and honestly, we would all love a chance to set some wrongs right with the people we’ve lost.
Yet, Baghead never nails down its themes. There was real opportunity here to create something like Natalie Erika James’ superb Relic, something truly affecting and emotional. Corredor mostly chooses a very conventional, jumpy (in theory) way of directing the story, but Baghead ends up being a mess.
What’s even worse is that the film is set in Berlin, everything’s very British. Characters too. Iris is seemingly British as is Neil. Iris’ dad is Scottish, played by Peter Mullan, always a welcome presence, but utterly wasted here. The pub itself is called The Queen’s Head. I’ve never been to Berlin, but I can’t imagine there’s an awful lot of pubs called The Queen’s Head and it seems a little naive to cast only Brits or Scots in your film if you’re going to set it in Germany. Why not set it in Glasgow or London? Liverpool? Birmingham was available, I hear. The setting adds nothing but confusion to the film.
It doesn’t feel right. No explanations are offered as to why all these people find themselves in a traditional English pub in Berlin. In fact, it’s never acknowledged which in turn makes me feel like Corredor and his screenwriter Lorcan Reilly are simply wishing we won’t notice.
Baghead is based on Corredor and Reilly’s short film of the same name and the production has that distinct feel of a cool idea that’s been stretched far too thin. For me? It’s not scary, it’s not fun and it made me feel nothing.
Writing all these things out brings me no joy, but I believe in honest film criticism and not lying or sugarcoating things. I wanted to love Baghead, I wanted it to be entertaining despite any flaws.
It never rises to the occasion. It’s a missed opportunity for all involved and continues 2024’s streak of really poor horror. Here’s hoping things improve.
Baghead is now in cinemas.