When I heard the name of the film was “Baghead”, it struck me a certain way. The film itself is not what my mind first considered. That’s certainly not to say I was disappointed, it merely says that my mind will often go places other peoples won’t. But I suppose that, too, shouldn’t be much of a surprise.
“Baghead” is directed and written by the Duplass Brothers, Jay and Mark. Being a Netflix subscriber for the past couple years, I was familiar with their name because of their first feature from 2005 “The Puffy Chair”. OK, not that I had seen it, but because I saw it available on Netflix. It’s gotten quite a bit of talk and it made an imprint on my mind.
I read a blurb about the impetus for “Baghead”, and it said that it came about because a crew member’s response to the question, “what’s the scariest thing you can think of?” was, “a guy with a bag on his head staring into your window”. Well, that already made me want to see it, especially because some people found that notion funny, as well as scary. I was certainly curious to see where these guys would go with that.
“Baghead” is about four actors that decide, instead of waiting for the great roles to come along, get together in a cabin in the woods and write their own screenplay, without really knowing anything about how to do it. “Baghead” starts out as a kind of relationship movie – these four actors have their romantic entanglements, complicating their friendships. They spend some time letting us get to know them and investing some emotional connection to them. It’s got some funny dialogue (“You’ve got Elvis hair!”), which is also testament to the actors. They really ARE quite natural.
And then, there’s a shift that makes this movie more of a thriller. Things come to a head and it’s pretty scary. There’s an almost “Blair Witch” effect and then, “Huh? Wow.” I mean, it really had me. I was certainly absorbed. And I really had an emotional response to the end.
The Duplass Brothers are making movies the way people do it without tons of money and resources. They have an idea, they write it, find people (friends) to be in it. Then they shoot it themselves, do the sound themselves, cook the food the actors and crew eat, sleep where they film, all that. This is low budget, no studio, do-it-ALL-yourself filmmaking. They even let the actors tweak the dialogue. The requirement is to make it all feel real. I learned a new word: Mumblecore. This is the ultra-low budget style of production of which this film is an example. Elements often include personal relationships and improvised scripts, and non-professional actors. But, uh, no, the actors don’t mumble.
I often wish Hollywood would follow the Duplass Brothers lead. You don’t need a hundred million dollars to make a good movie. Just have a good story to tell. Hear that Bruckheimer? Hear that Schumacher? Make GOOD movies, not just expensive ones.
I’ll recommend this movie as well as “The Puffy Chair”. Yes, I just watched that online tonight; like an hour ago. I couldn’t resist. I watched both of the Duplass Brothers movies in one night and enjoyed them both. How’s that for a glowing endorsement?
— Neil T. Weakley, pleasantly surprised movie goer.
BAGHEAD has a limited release July 25, 2008