Baghead // Follow Me to the Basement

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It’s time for Shudder’s Halfway to Halloween month-long horror-thon lineup. There is usually a good mix of titles for the genre fans. They added in some fresh gems and BAGHEAD is one of the latest and most anticipated films, by moi. It’s been in my queue for months and I love a good Shudder premiere. So, did it live up to my hopes and dreams? 

Surprise! It’s a girl!

Iris (Freya Allen) inherits a centuries-old pub from her estranged father (Peter Mullan). Recently evicted from her apartment, she travels to Berlin to identify his body, and meet with the solicitor, and take possession of the estate. However, once she signs the deed to the property, she is inextricably tied to an entity residing in the basement. 

Adapted from the indie short by the same name, director Alberto Corredor brings us a fascinating, new supernatural creature and interesting lore to flesh it out. Baghead is a centuries-old being with the ability to shapeshift into the dead. Iris takes possession of the property along with a video cassette from her late father with said information and special instructions. We’re going to ignore those later. For now, she settles into the new place along with the help of her best friend, Katie (Ruby Barker). She is the friend we all need but do not necessarily deserve. 

It’s in the tagline

Talk to the dead. Pay the price. While moving in, an unannounced visitor sneaks in and accosts the pair. A man named Neil (Jeremy Irvine) who has recently lost his wife, has a strange request and is willing to pay. Iris is in a compromised position. Neither believing in Baghead nor being in a financial position to turn down an offer of cash, she relents and allows this stranger to return.  

Iris sees this as a profitable and benign source of income. She eschews all warnings and advice from best friend, Katie. Later, Neil returns and all three embark on this supernatural journey. Together, they descend the stairs into the basement. An entity appears from a hole in the brick walls. In an old, tattered sack gown and potato sack over its head, Baghead makes her appearance. After Neil presents her with a ring and asks to speak to his late wife, she transforms into Neil’s wife. They manage to dissolve the situation when it quickly gets out of hand. Soon after, they implement several rules and learn that Iris is linked to this creature as long as her name is on the deed.  

You in danger, girl

We can’t have a horror movie without someone making mistakes. Iris is stubborn and angry, and she needs to learn everything for herself. Let’s begin with, “I inherited a big home and yes, it’s too good to be true.” There’s always a reason to be wary. Iris has a whole videotape cautionary tale from her late father. However, she is not trusting of him and a tale of an immortal woman in the basement with supernatural powers is preposterous. 

Next up is our new friend, Neil. Stranger danger, anyone? Grief is an understandable reason to make questionable decisions but a desperate person shouldn’t be trusted. This is true for both Iris and Neil.

Fatal errors

I was invested after the introduction of Baghead but it quickly became too much and not enough. We meet Baghead and she’s a unique conduit for speaking to the dead. They implement rules but Iris doesn’t follow them. The idea is there but it doesn’t ever really take off and give us anything greater. Iris was sympathetic at first but by the third act, I wanted Katie to physically shake some sense into her.

And now, Katie. Can the writers of The Black Guy Dies First add another title to their repertoire? Perhaps, Doomed POC and Queer Sidekicks & Besties in Horror. Casting departments need to stop casting women of color as the best friends, so they can be tossed aside at every opportunity. Katie is a longtime friend and goes above and beyond to help her grieving and financially unstable friend. She is ignored and treated poorly. Why does she exist in this story? Moreover, Katie deserves better.

Ultimately, I think the best parts came too soon and the ending, although unexpected, was just alright. The introduction is solid and we are given enough information to understand some of Iris’ decisions. Baghead’s first appearance was unsettling. There were a few delightful, sinister reveals. The pub was a nice choice and a creepy environment. I enjoyed the history given to the location and Baghead’s origin story. It has a great runtime and never seems to drag. However, I found Iris too frustrating and couldn’t connect with her character. I think if you enjoy a slow story with minimal scares, this could be right up your alley. I just craved more and felt unsatisfied. Available to stream now on Shudder and AMC+