Last year gave us a brilliant horror movie about the perils of talking to the dead in the form of Talk to Me. This year, which has already started on shaky ground with the disappointing Night Swim, comes another talk to the dead horror, Alberto Corredor’s Baghead. Sadly, while not quite a total disaster, it’s definitely not a patch on Talk to Me.
Following the death of her estranged father Owen (Peter Mullan), unemployed Iris (Freya Allan) learns that she has inherited a rundown 400-year-old pub from him. Travelling to Berlin, she decides to spend some time there before deciding whether or not to sell it.
Her first night in the pub is disturbed by the arrival of a man called Neil (Jeremy Irvine), who offers Iris a large sum of money if he can use the woman trapped in her basement to talk to his dead wife. Iris asks Neil to come back the following evening, giving her a chance to learn a bit more about the basement before agreeing to anything.
A VHS tape left by Peter with the word ‘Instructions’ written on it helps bring Iris up to speed. Down in the basement is a trapped entity known as Baghead, a lumbering human-shaped figure with a bag over its head that possesses the power to channel the dead on demand. It appears that Peter was making a fair bit of money out of recently bereaved strangers such as Neil, but as we’d already seen at the start of the movie, he paid the price for trying to break the arrangement.
Peter goes on to explain some rules – anything more than two minutes of possession time and the entity begins to gain control and things start to go awry, and while the entity isn’t able to leave the basement the pub owners should not cross through into the hole in the wall from where it comes from either. You know, rules which are bound to be broken later on in the movie.
But all penniless Iris is concerned about is the money-making opportunity she’s now presented with, courtesy of her newly acquired basement so when her friend Katie (Ruby Barker) arrives to keep her company, they decide to take Neil’s money and head down into the basement with him to see how it works.
Strapped into a chair, Baghead can take a personal item from the deceased and shapeshift into that person so that when the bag is removed, it’s them that you are seeing. A timer is set for two minutes and when the timer goes off, that’s the cue to put the bag back on. Baghead is a powerful, manipulative entity, but Iris discovers that because her name is now signed on the deeds, she has become the guardian of Baghead and can command her when she tries to step out of line.
It’s an interesting setup, and aside from the similarities with Talk to Me and the clunky acting from all, there are some genuinely creepy scares early on in the movie. Iris and Kate start to learn more about the history of the pub and the origin of the entity, not to mention how it affected Iris’s father. However, with a mostly self-contained location and barely fleshed-out characters, it does struggle to hold interest for its short 94-minute run time.
A couple of other things also worked against it for me. Firstly, I couldn’t understand why the pub was located in Berlin when it has the name ‘The Queen’s Head’. And secondly, I didn’t like the way that the rules had to keep being repeated to us like we were too stupid to remember them from earlier. Like a voiceover memory of Peter warning not to go through the hole in the wall, just as Iris contemplates doing just yet (as if anyone really needs reminding just how stupid an idea that is!). Or near the end when a montage of earlier moments helps to hammer home what’s been going on so far to get us to the imminent shock moment.
Just like in Talk to Me, Baghead does introduce a very interesting idea right at the end that I would really like to have seen explored further. It does end things on a high, following what is overall a fairly average horror movie.
Where to Watch
Web developer by day, with a movie and TV watchlist that continues to grow as much as my spare time reduces! My favourite movie is Inception and, despite what everyone says, I do not have a man-crush on Tom Cruise.