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Baghead (15)

Cast: Jeremy Irvine, Ruby Barker, Peter Mullan, Freya Allan
Genre: Horror
Author(s): Bryce McGuire, Christina Pamies
Director: Alberto Corredor
Release Date: 26/01/2024
Running Time: 95mins
Country: UK
Year: 2023

Iris Lark has almost no memories of her late father Owen. She learns from the family solicitor that she has inherited a rundown pub in Berlin, The Queen's Head, which comes with "a special tenant" in the basement: a gnarled creature named Baghead. The shapeshifting hag can connect the living with the dead but there are dire consequences for using her services, especially if you exceed a strict two-minute time limit for conversing with spirits.

LondonNet Film Review

Baghead (15) Film Review from LondonNet

Shivers of staccato strings herald impending doom in Baghead, a supernatural horror expanded by director Alberto Corredor from his 2017 short film about a witch living in the storage room of a pub, who reconnects the grief-stricken with the dearly departed… for a price. Screenwriters Christina Pamies and Bryce McGuire appropriate Lorcan Reilly’s original premise for a menacing prologue, which strongly counsels one anguished relative against engaging the crone’s services. “Take your grief elsewhere. You’ll find no peace here,” growls her accursed guardian. Predictably, sage words fall on deaf ears and we don’t have to wait too long before the bloodcurdling screams begin…

It takes considerably longer for Corredor to reveal what lurks beneath the hessian sack worn by Baghead to mask her hideousness, realised with slick digital effects. The script creaks and groans almost as loudly as the centuries-old pub where the carnage is focused, gradually distilling a convoluted mythology mired in secret brotherhoods and generational sin with sporadic jump scares. Baghead calls last orders on our emotional engagement with characters in peril by starving everyone, particularly the beleaguered heroine played by Freya Allan, of relatable and full back stories. We have little sympathy for the almost-dead as potential victims ignore the most basic rule of horror film survival: don’t wander off alone in the dark.

Struggling art student Iris Lark (Allan) is evicted from her flat shortly before she receives a telephone call from Berlin, disclosing the death of her estranged father Owen (Peter Mullan). Iris grew up with feisty best friend Katie (Ruby Barker) and has no memories of Owen but she agrees to travel to Germany to formally identify the body. During the trip, Owen’s solicitor (Ned Dennehy) reveals that Iris has inherited a rundown tavern, The Queen’s Head, which comes with “a special tenant” in the basement: a gnarled creature named Baghead (Anne Muller). The shapeshifting hag has the power to connect the living with the dead by swallowing an object belonging to the deceased.

However, there are dire consequences for using the crone’s services, especially if you exceed a strict two-minute time limit for each otherworldly conversation. Grief-stricken widower Neil (Jeremy Irvine) approaches Iris with a cash-filled envelope so he might speak to his late wife Sarah (Svenja Jung) through Baghead. “Money’s no object. I just want the chance to say goodbye,” he pleads. Desperate to resuscitate her finances, Iris accepts the money and naively opens herself to malevolent corruption.

Baghead traipses lightly on genre ground already haunted by instalments of The Conjuring universe and The Curse Of La Llorona. The titular terror has a much fuller personal history than any of her undernourished victims and by the time the end credits roll, the mounting body count is a blessed relief.

– Kim Hu

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