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  • Rev Horror


Dir. Alberto Corredor (2023)

A young woman inherits a house with a creature in the basement that lets visitors speak to the dead.

I haven't made it a secret that I haven't been as impressed with some of the "Shudder originals" that I've reviewed lately. They tend to be fairly ambitious and contain some decent ideas, but by and large they have fallen a little flat in either execution or scope. I don't know what the obsession is lately with slow-burn horror, but it feels like we've lost a lot of the fun for which the genre has long been known and appreciated by its fans. The upcoming Baghead, however, while maintaining the streak of slower horror the platform has been releasing lately, breaks through the monotony to actually delivers a film that is both well-plotted and legitimately scary.

Iris (Freya Allan) learns of her estranged father's (Ozark's Peter Mullan) death while waiting for news on her admission to college, finding herself the sole owner of a large family property upon the reading of his will. Unbeknownst to her, the house holds a secret. An ancient creature named Baghead (Anne Müller) lurks in the basement, willing to provide an encounter with a deceased loved one... at a price. Iris, whose ownership of the house also gives her a certain ownership over the masked lady in the basement, finds herself in a fight for survival as she attempts to keep it from escaping into the world outside her new home. Her new visitor Neil (Jeremy Irvine), who seeks to commune with his recently deceased wife, may not be as much help as he seems.

I can forgive a lot of slowness if it means I'm gonna jump out of my skin a few times, and Baghead definitely has those moments. The titular creature is terrifying and very well-played by Müller. The film borrows heavily in both the creature's design and movement patterns from other well-known films, but that doesn't matter one iota when its as effective as it is. There is a rather liberal use of jumpscares throughout, but they never feel particularly cheap or that the film overly relies on them to get its points across. The score, likewise, is hardly groundbreaking, but is generally effective for the story and the ambience the film attempts to convey.

It is, however, a slow burn. After a strong opening, the film plods along a bit through the beginning, but its peppered with enough freaky moments to keep its audience on its toes. When it attempts to be scary, it's very successful, and it uses these moments often enough to avoid the normal drag that comes from these types of films. The actors are all excellent, especially Freya Allan in the lead, who portrays a young woman with a troubled familial past that may not be as straightforward as it seems. The ending, likewise, is fantastic, a "careful what you wish for" finale that feels inevitable but is delivered about as well as it could be while still managing to surprise a bit.

Despite the slow start (and a title that is perhaps more fitting for a creature feature than the supernatural horror that plays out in the film), Baghead is one of the better Shudder films in recent memory. The creature itself is terrifying, and it's just an all-around well-done horror flick. While it occasionally bashes the viewer over the head with its overall message of leaving the dead in their graves, it never feels like it wears out its welcome and does a fantastic job of maintaining the audience's interest. It feels very similar to Talk To Me, though it goes in new directions from the previous film that make it different enough to stand on its own. I'd have loved to see a little more about the creature's backstory, which would be perfectly fitting into an age where women's lib seems to be taking a few steps forward. Maybe in Baghead 2: Even Baggier.

Who this movie is for: Supernatural horror stans, Slow burn horror fans, Grieving spouses

Bottom line: Lots of good scares and a decent, though slow, plot highlight the newest addition to the Shudder lineup. It's well-acted, excellently shot, and delivers a decent (if not particularly inventive) story that packs an eerie punch. It's a good flick, and it's finally a good outing for a Shudder original. This is definitely one you want to check out, and I have a feeling that it's gonna get some love once it releases on the platform on April 5th for Shudder's Halfway to Halloween lineup.


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