Sony Pictures Classics, 2008
By Julissa Trevino
Baghead is an awkward, unlikely film. Though it is never as funny as it could be, the film is an original, unconventional spoof on films that try too hard to be serious in their ridiculous plots.
Writers and directors Jay and Mark Duplass create a short, whacky blend of comedy and drama. The film begins as four friends watch an indie film set behind a Los Angeles film festival. Though the film is a joke, they are intrigued by the director’s strategy of recording his subjects without letting them know until the end of the shoot. The friends decide to head to a cabin to make their own script and movie, convinced they can do a better job.
The friends (Matt, Catherine, Chad and Michelle), instead of working at producing a script, begin to get tangled up in feelings of desire and jealousy. Michelle (played by Mumblecore queen Greta Gerwig) begins to have a crush on Catherine’s ex-boyfriend Matt, even though his best friend, Chad, likes Michelle. It’s actually less confusing than it sounds. Meanwhile, their idea for a horror movie (about a guy with a bag over his head) begins to come true.
Filmed with what seems like a handheld camera, Baghead works well. It is exactly what the friends set out to make in the film, except that Baghead turns out to be a comedy because of the simple, ridiculous idea.
The best aspect of the film, however, has nothing to do with the quality of the film, but with the subject matter: Baghead. The image of a guy with a bag over his head trying to be scary actually works. It creates a sort of tense, awkward feeling that could really be terrifying if the viewer placed him/herself in the woods at night.
But with several long pauses, the film can drag on a little too much. And though the film prides itself on being low-budget and having a great deal of improvisation, Baghead‘s dialogue can get too predictable. Overall, however, Baghead works as a film based on a funny concept. It plays off the classic scary movie where the characters’ ideas start becoming true, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. And neither should viewers.