Monday, November 09, 2009



Two couples want to break into the film business. Each has had very minor roles as extras but success eludes them. After attending a $1000 indie film made by a friend, Chad suggests that they spend the weekend in his parents’ remote summer home where they can finally get serious about writing a screenplay. When Michelle has a nightmare about a man with a bag over his head attacking her, the quartet decides to go with this idea and create a low budget horror film. After one of them spies a person lurking around the cabin wearing a bag, paranoia kicks in and the four begin accusing one another of being the bag-head. This leads to some painful truths about their relationships as accusations and anger over old hurts emerge. Is someone merely playing a joke or is there something more sinister going on here?

Despite an ad campaign promoting Baghead as a “horror” film, the story is really a character study of two couples and the sexual tension, flirtation, jealousy, drunken confession, and betrayal that occurs over the course of a weekend. This is not to suggest that this is a bad thing. Director Jay Duplass is clearly skillful at capturing the nuances (e.g., side-way glances, etc) that feed sexual chemistry. In fact, I found the relationship issues to be the best part of the film. I have seen the director’s previous effort, The Puffy Chair, and it’s clear that Duplass excels at portraying the nature of relationships and all the baggage that often complicates them. Horror however is not his strong suit and Baghead ultimately fails once the central story kicks in. The climax is all too brief and utterly unsatisfying. Yet although it’s short on scares the real reason to watch Baghead is to observe how quickly friendships can breakdown and that often the things we take for granted are ephemeral. The fragility of our relationships is the true horror in Baghead.

Baghead is apparently part of a new indie sub-genre called “mumblecore”. According to Wikipedia, it's "primarily characterized by ultra-low budget production (often employing digital video cameras), focus on personal relationships between twenty-somethings, improvised scripts, and non-professional actors."

PS. I only read about it 5 minutes ago but I already hate the word mumblecore.

1 comment:

Octopunk said...

I prefer the "mumblecore" synonyms "bedhead cinema" and "Slackavetes."

Pretty weird choice, JPX. I knew someone in college whose group of friends was menaced by Pillowhead, the alter ego of one of the group. They'd get high, he'd excuse himself, come back with a pillow on his head, wreak some havoc, and leave. When he returned sans pillow, everyone would say "Steve, Pillowhead was here! You missed him again!"

Probably sounds a lot more fun than it was to deal with.