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BAGHEAD, 2008
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BAGHEAD MOVIE POSTER
BAGHEAD
Movie Reviews

Directed by Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
Starring: Ross Partridge, Steve Zissis, Greta Gerwig & Elise Muller
Review by Ben Lupinetti



SYNOPSIS:

Four struggling actors head out to a remote cabin in the woods for a weekend to write a screenplay in the hope of giving a boost to their acting careers. As the weekend goes on, feuding between the friends creates tension that is only exacerbated when their idea for a slasher movie starts to look like more than just a scary story.

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REVIEW:

Baghead is everything you’ve already heard it is from the dozens upon dozens of other analyses of the film written by other equally lonely and perhaps more intelligent and better-groomed reviewers. That is to say, it is funny and scary and a truly unique film that breathes new life into the slasher sub-genre of horror movies that has more or less been worn down to a nub by the countless other cliché-ridden gore-fests out there. And if itdoesn’t say that in the other reviews…Hey! Look at how clever I am!

The film follows four friends, Matt, Chad, Michelle and Catherine, all of whom are struggling actors living in L.A. (because, after all, misery loves company). After attending a screening of a low-budget independent film made by a friend of Matt, the group is struck with the idea to write their own movie with parts for each of them in order for them all to finally get their big breaks, and presumably because they’d just as soonnot do guest spots on Two and a Half Men (no, I kid, it’s an alright show).

Writing a marketable screenplay fueled on little more than light beer proves to be more difficult than they anticipated, but the group nonetheless manages to get started on their movie, based on a beer-induced idea from Michelle. After drinking too much, Michelle has a dream which inspires the idea of a killer who wears a bag over their head, thereby reaffirming my opinion that alcohol is a key component of the creative process. It’s slowgoing putting together the plot and the other minutiae of the story, though, and the creative process is only hindered more when Matt and Michelle start to get too flirty for Chad and Catherine’s comfort. I think you all would agree it’s awkward enough to watch two other people flirt, but the fact that Chad is secretly in love with Michelle, and the fact that Catherine, who has dated Matt on and off for the past eleven years, still has feelings for Matt, makes things even harder.

This palpable discomfort between the characters is probably the most polished part of the film. The acting is so sharp and the dialogue sounds so natural, one can’t help but get immersed in what almost feels like real events taking place. We thus become deeply involved in the story as jealousy starts to hinder the group’s efforts and drive the characters apart, as well as drive them to start scaring each other with the idea of a mysterious stranger running around in the woods (which, by the way, ranks number four on my list of scariest geographic locations coming in just behind an old mansion in which something horrifying happened ten years ago on this night, and coming in just ahead of a mannequin factory) wearing a paper bag on their head, and seeming to harbor malicious intentions. And if that doesn’t sound scary to you, go out to the nearest wooded area witha friend of yours and take turns putting a grocery bag on your heads and standing eerily off in the distance. Pretty freaky, right?

Of course, any time you and several of your friends go off into a deserted cabin in the woods for the weekend without anyone nearby to help or any ability to get a signal on your cell phone, you really are asking to be killed by someone with a personality disorder, and some sort of scary-looking cutting tool that genuinely looks like it was designed for the dismemberment of young people. But then again, these characters’chances for survival are helped by the fact that they are not a bunch of teenagers who think it’s smart to have sex with total disregard for any knife-wielding maniacs in the area, or proper use of birth control.

But I digress, to an almost inexcusable extent.

I’m reticent to say anymore about the story for fear of giving away some of the best surprises, but sufficed to say this is a profoundly fresh approach to a rather stale concept that feels real and manages to be extremely engaging, that is if you don’t mind the story occasionally taking timeouts to spend a few scenes on the characters’ relationships to one another. But I can’t complain, not when the characters are so endearing and feel so genuine and unique. I know I found this to be a huge relief considering that the typical scary movie of this type features a bunch of dim-witted cardboard cutouts wanderingaround aimlessly just waiting to get hacked into little itty bits.

I suppose my only complaint would be the ending, which is delightfully surprising, but only somewhat satisfying. It’s just a bit too abrupt to leave me feeling truly content, but then again, maybe that’s all part of the marketing strategy for the sequel Baghead 2: Revenge of Bagehad. Maybe it will deliver on the teen sex and gruesome murders and bad dialogue. My suggestion for the tagline: “It’s in the bag!” Or, perhaps something much better.

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