Sony // 2008 // 80 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // December 23rd, 2008
Chad: Goodnight, movie girlfriend.
Four friends go in to the woods, and something terrifying is out there stalking them. This is an independent movie made for one thousand dollars shot on hand held cameras with actors screaming and running through the woods. Sounds a lot like The Blair Witch Project, but the good news is it's a hell of a lot funnier. Baghead is a cheap slasher film out to bring the cabin in the woods genre down a notch into parody.
Four struggling actors (2 guys, 2 girls) decide they should write and make a cheap independent movie, so they head out to a remote cabin in the woods to craft a relationship drama during drunken brainstorming sessions. The very first night, one of the girls thinks she sees a man with a paper bag on his head watching her from the woods. She tells her friends, and they decide that would make a brilliant movie. There's only one problem, now they have to make it out of the remote forest alive because the killer might not want them to make a film about his hobby. Is there really a demented slasher, or is it the jealous girlfriend (Elise Muller, Vampire Lesbian Kickboxers) getting revenge? Could it be the nerdy large guy's (Steve Zissis, Momma's Boy) way of scaring the girl he wants (Greta Gerwig, Hannah Takes the Stairs) into his arms? Maybe it's just the suave lady's man (Ross Partridge, Amityville: A New Generation) trying to frighten his friends enough to make his script look good.
Baghead proves once again that with a minimal investment and a lot of imagination, anybody can make a horror film. Luckily the Duplass Brothers (The Puffy Chair) are directing this one, and they know how to juggle all of the moments to make it a fun ride. The film is painfully real, hilariously funny, and at times genuinely scary. They are bitch slapping the idea of the pretentious indie scene, but they do it so well the spoof works on all the levels it is poking fun. Baghead is a proud member of the "mumblecore" genre, a cheap indie film made in the woods for next to nothing.
Sony delivers a very solid DVD package for the film. The anamorphic widescreen looks as good as it can given the cheap handheld way the movie was shot, and the stereo mix also is competent enough to recreate the sometimes hard to hear dialogue. Color levels are natural, and black levels reveal grain on some of the night scenes. Extras are plentiful with a chatty commentary from Mark and Jay Duplass being the star attraction. Also included is a video interview with the directors as they manage their respective real life babies while answering the questions they have been asked thousands of times before. To round everything out we also get a reel of "Baghead Scares." These look like segments people made on homemade cameras as part of a contest the distributor ran to promote the film, and there aren't too many to view.
This one is easy to pick apart if you are so inclined, and I'll be the first to provide a laundry list of all the possible complaints. It's a cheap movie, and it proudly wears this on its tattered sleeve. Shaky cam doesn't get annoying, but it is certainly present. There are logic problems that can bog down the insightful viewer, but that ruins all the fun. The dialogue was recorded on the fly, and sometimes it is hard to hear when an actor steps away from the camera. If real improvised lines bug you, this movie could drive you a bit crazy. The scares are not all that terrifying, although admittedly most of them aren't supposed to be. This film truly wants to be more fun than fearful, and in the end that's how it all winds up.
Baghead is a hoot, providing an appropriate kick in the pants to the indie mumblecore scene by mixing it with the horror genre. With only a thousand dollars and four committed actors, the Duplass brothers deliver a fun weekend in the forest certainly worth checking out. Sony has loaded this production up with enough extras to make it seem like studio royalty. Baghead is an enjoyable romp that fans of indie horror should find right up their alley.
Guilty of making me giggle with its simplicity, Baghead is free to go on making handheld movies in the creepy woods.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Directors' Commentary
* Directors' Interview
* Baghead Scares