GORE IN THE STORE
Directed by Jay Duplass & Mark Duplass.
Starring Ross Partridge, Steve Zissis, Greta Gerwig, Elise Muller, Jett Garner.
Horror/Comedy, 80 mins, cert 15.
Released in the UK on Blu-ray via 101 Films on 28th February 2022.
A movie called BAGHEAD that features a stalker in the woods who wears a bag on his head? Sounds like the sort of thing a seasoned genre fan would lap up but do not be fooled as BAGHEAD is no backwoods slasher or hillbilly gorefest; no, BAGHEAD is a low - or, indeed, no – budget mumblecore horror comedy that features no real horror, barely anything to laugh at and the kind of infuriatingly self-aware smugness that comes from having little else to offer after its initial setup.
And that setup involves four main characters who have attended a film festival where a sub-$1000 budget indie movie called WE CAME NAKED seems to inspire Matt (Ross Partridge) to come up with a plan to make his own movie. He has this eureka moment after a Q&A with WE CAME NAKED’s director, who tells the audience about the ultra-low budget and how a lot of his scenes were improvised by people who didn’t even realise they were being filmed for a movie.
Matt is joined on his venture by his sometime girlfriend Catherine (Elise Muller), his best friend Chad (Steve Zissis) and the object of his affection, Michelle (Greta Gerwig), who seems keener on Matt than she is on Chad. They decide to hole themselves up in a cabin in the woods – as we know, this is always a good idea – in order to write a script, which Chad sees as a bit of an opportunity to get closer to Michelle as the friends swap ideas, settling on the story of an attacker who wears a paper bag on his head. Thing is, when a bagged-up intruder does visit a half-naked Michelle in her room it turns out it isn’t any of the other three and it’s not actually a part of the movie they’re making... so who could it be?
Well, it’s pretty obvious if you’re paying attention to what is said before the main characters get to the cabin, and even if you don’t know it is still pretty underwhelming when the big reveal takes place, mainly because it doesn’t seem to be the main focus of the narrative. Instead, the focus seems to be on the relationships between the four main characters, an angle that would have been better served if there were perhaps something interesting about any of them but the script doesn’t give us that. What we get are people as bland and uninteresting as the repetitive dialogue the actors are regurgitating from the minimal script they were probably handed minutes before the cameras rolled, with the gaps between the plot points clearly improvised, harking back to the questions about improvising that were fired at the director earlier in the movie – do you see?
At its core BAGHEAD does have the colonel of an idea about when movies and real-life crossover, and what is and isn’t real becomes blurred, but it is just a suggestion that is never really expanded on in a way that successfully fills out an 80-minute runtime. Instead, we get treated to characters chatting about themselves in short bursts between large bouts of nothing really happening. The romance element never really goes anywhere, the ‘comedy’ is merely the light-hearted tone with which a potentially horrific incident is handled, and the overall feeling is one of ‘What was the point of that?’ when the credits finally roll.