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BAGHEAD (a J!-ENT DVD REVIEW)

December 25, 2008 by  



“An enjoyable low-budget horror parody that the Duplass Brothers can only succeed in pulling off!  Hilarious, fun and scary, overall an enjoyable film!”

TITLE: BAGHEAD

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2008

DURATION: 81 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: NTSC, Region 1, 1:78:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen).

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: R for language, sexual content and nudity

Release Date: December 27, 2008

Directed, Written and Produced by Jay and Mark Duplass

Editor – Jay Deuby

Original Music – J. Scott Howard

Produced by John Bryant, Jen Tracy Duplass

Starring:

Steve Zissis as Chad

Ross Partridge as Matt

Greta Gerwig as Michelle

Elise Muller as Catherine

Jeff Garner as Jeff Garner

While the Duplass Brothers were shooting their last feature film The Puffy Chair, a crew member raised the question “what’s the scariest thing you can think of?” Someone immediately said “a guy with a bag on his head staring into your window.” Some agreed, but some thought it was downright ridiculous and, if anything, funny (but definitely not scary). Thus, BAGHEAD was born, an attempt to take the absurdly low-concept idea of a “guy with a bag on his head” and make a funny, truthful, endearing film that, maybe, just maybe, was a little bit scary, too.

Robert Rodriguez was among the first that truly was an inspiration of creating movies with a low budget.  It just takes some creation and a well-written story and who knows where it can take you.

For the Duplass Brothers, independent filmmakers known for their hit “The Puffy Chair” comes “BAGHEAD”, a low-budget horror film that parodies horror films but manages to captivate you with its humor, awkwardness and it stars the queen of mumblecore.

The film stars Ross Partridge, Steve Zissis, Greta Gerwik and Elise Muller as four actors who have not really had any success in their acting careers.  After watching a friend’s mumblecore (note: a term that means ultra low-budget, shot with a home digital camera) film at an underground film festival, the four decide to write a screenplay but star each of them.  So, they decide to go on a retreat to work on this script in a cabin at Big Bear and hopefully it will jumpstart their careers.

The four main characters are:

Matt (Ross Partridge) is the cool guy.  He has an off-and-on relationship with Catherine but really wants to make his acting career happen.

Chad (Steve Zissis) is Matt’s best friend, also a fellow actor.  Low-self esteem, really digs his date Michelle and worried that his best friend Matt may have sex with her.

Catherine (Elise Mueller) is Matt’s on-and-off girlfriend and an actress who is not quite happy where her career is, especially as she gets older.

Michelle (Greta Gerwig) is Chad’s date and wants to have sex with Matt.

The four try to come up with a script but somehow some are into it and some are not and have difficulty coming up with ideas.  Michelle who gets a bit drunk doesn’t feel well and goes outside to puke and then she sees a person with a bag in his head.  Michelle tells everyone that there is a guy out there with a bag on his head but no one believes her.  If anything, Matt feels that a serial killer wearing a bag on his head would make a great script.

But as the four start to flesh out the script, Michelle secretly gives Matt a letter that she wants to see him in her bedroom.  While Michelle waits for him, she sees a man but with a bag on his head.  Michelle gets scared out of her wits and tells Matt but Matt said he didn’t do it and said maybe Catherine did it and thus everyone starts to accuse someone of being the person with a bag on his head.

Next thing you know, the following morning Catherine is missing and then Chad is missing.  Perhaps there is a real serial killer outside the cabin who is wearing a bag over his head…

The film, being low-budget, doesn’t rely on having much but reliable lighting, camera work that is quite shaky and it seems there is an actual fifth person in the room filming them with a digital camera and good editing to make sure that the cut scenes are done right.

After watching “BAGHEAD”, I was actually quite pleased with what the Duplass Brothers were able to come up with.  A well-thought out script that was improvised with what the crew had at their disposal, it came together pretty well.  Also, the actors seem like friends and not actors trying to act like actors.  I hope that makes sense but to simply explain it, these characters are real, genuine people that I can imagine myself meeting at a Hollywood party and talking about creating a script and acting in it (albeit to make their IMDB profile look great).

But overall, Mark and Jay Duplass manages to create a fun film that I enjoyed more on DVD courtesy of their commentary and special features.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

The DVD is presented in 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen.  Because this is a low-budget film, I was not exactly looking for any superb video quality or audio quality.  Audio is primarily dialogue and you can hear them clearly.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Baghead” comes with the following special features:

  • Commentary with Directors/Writers Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass – I have to admit that it was a blast to hear these two talk about the film.  Knowing about the challenges and their feelings about the actors and actresses and overall their film.  Knowing how they had plans to have a certain scene but due to losing a light, they had to come up with a different storyline.  Knowing about certain scenes they cut out and most of all, learning things what potential filmmakers want to hear in a commentary.
  • Mark and Jay Duplass Answers Questions They’ve Already Answered – This was also fun to watch as the two had their baby daughters with them.  How cool is that!  The two take their top 10 questions typically asked to them at the film festival circuit and re-answers them for the viewers.  Questions such as “What was your budget?”, “You two are brothers, can you stand working with each other throughout the film?”, etc.  And again, like the film itself, these guys are real, not spoiled by the industry and just tells it like it is and often playing with their children during the interview.  Overall, quite fun to watch.
  • Baghead Scares – Not sure if there was a contest online for this or it was purely user submitted but this special feature shows a few people scaring their families or people on the street wearing a bag over their heads.

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For me, having had worked on a low-budget project before, I’ve always looked at Indie films especially mumblecore type of films to be quite fun.  In this case, the Duplass Brothers manage to come up with a low budget horror film, not horror as you may think of in terms of gore and violence but just more or less, a storyline that is quite freaky right until the end.

Interesting ways of how you point fingers at each character of possibly being the baghead or wondering how dark or twisted the film could get but in the end, this film is more or less a comedy.  A lot of laughs, a lot of fun and for a low-budget film, I have to give the Duplass Brothers some props for working out the cut scenes quite well and really, come up with a solid story without not having the big Hollywood budget.

But most of all, managing to create a film that has a good balance of humor, horror and a bit of campiness but yet effectively telling a story without a multi-million dollar budget.  An enjoyable film on DVD worth checking out!






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