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The horror of what lies in a pub basement is the culmination of a long journey for Spanish director Alberto Corredor, who adapted his 2017 short film into his feature debut, BAGHEAD.


It tells the story of a shape shifting creature, who resides in the basement of a run-down pub and can take on the form of the dead. After a young woman inherits the pub from her estranged father, Neil (Jeremy Irvine) turns up late one night with money and a request. After watching him communicate with his dead wife through Baghead, the young landlady sees an opportunity to exploit those grieving souls and the shape shifting creature for her financial gain. There are consequences however, and she and her friend Katie (Ruby Barker) risk their own destruction.


In conversation with FRIGHTFEST, Corredor discussed how his journey might not quite be at an end, being drawn to emotional suspense and the sequels that stand up to their predecessors.


FRIGHTFEST - The time you’ve dedicated to this story has been a significant part of your life. This must be an interesting moment in time, when you're beginning to think about what’s next?


Alberto Corredor - It took over my life and that’s the truth. When I shot the short, the idea was to do it as a calling card to make it as a feature movie, but I never thought it would take six years to get to this point. Obviously Covid was in the mix and probably set us back by two years, but everyone was in the same boat. It gets tiring because as much as I love this character, and I think everyone else sees there’s something special, six years is personally a long time.


Then you think, 'Okay, I should get out of that basement in my head, that’s still in there with the witch, and look for new things,’ but I'm asked, “What about BAGHEAD 2?”


There's a lot of back story we didn't put in… I don't know, it’s always a conflicted feeling, so let’s see what the future brings because it's not completely in my control.


FF – Horror films have a reputation for producing sequels, trilogies and franchises. By expanding you risk repeating yourself, or like the latter ALIEN entries, uproot the mystery of its lore.


AC - I agree, and the only way I would do BAGHEAD 2 is if I can do something different. It doesn't interest me to keep doing the same thing. But there’s ALIENS and other movies where the second part has been better than the first, or not better because you cannot be better, but completely different. If that's a possibility, then yes, I'd do it, but if it's more of the same, then no.


FF - What horror sequels for you found a way to do something different?


AC - The second EVIL DEAD is better than the first. Sorry, if people don't agree, but I have my t-shirt somewhere that says it. ALIENS wasn't better but it’s so different. When I watched ALIENS I wasn't sure because I love the first so much, but with time, you realise you need to go in a different direction.


I watched the first PURGE and I like Ethan Hawke in any movie. The second one with Frank Grillo is the one I like the most out of all of them, because it’s about revenge and it’s so personal.


To make a sequel that’s worth it you need to do something different. It’s not about being better, it's about being relevant, being fresh and not doing something that’s about trying to make more money with the same film again.



FF – Horror films have many rules and familiar tropes, and the audience is knowledgeable and engaged. While expressive and fun, can it feel like you’re trapped? Is there an element of turning the audience's expectations against them to find something different?


AC - When you're in a studio producing movies everything is discussed, and you sometimes feel a bit constrained. For horror fans like you and I it's very difficult to bring something new without us seeing it happen. So, when someone does, it's like, ‘Holy shit, this is really good.’


BAGHEAD was piggybacking on the short film and [it’s built around] the expectations you have when someone brings a person they love back from the dead. You twist the motivation of the characters and that was one of the elements we needed to translate to the feature because it works.


In creating the horror and the tension, you have to use many [familiar] elements - there's going to be sound, there's going to be tension or shadows with the way you shoot and frame it. There's no getting around it and the only possible way you can make things different is in your concept and in your characters - what the stakes are. If you manage to do that, you're going to have something like HEREDITARY, which is a magnificent movie. The horror is trivial, we've seen it so many times before, and by throwing in a family drama it becomes something completely different.


It's about more than creating scares. […] Some movies are about that, but that's not interesting for me. You do some of that because you have to and as a first-time director you must. Personally, it's about how you create the emotional tension because the stakes are so high.



FF – BAGHEAD is in stark contrast to the nerve-shredding horror of INSIDIOUS and SINISTER. There are different types of horror, and the approach dictates how you position the audience. Some films suck you into the suspense and scares, while in others you become companions to the characters and their emotions. BAGHEAD leans towards the latter.


AC - Absolutely! BAGHEAD was never intended to be that kind of movie. When we shot the short it wasn't about the scares. Yes, you create the visuals and the atmosphere, and the basement that keeps you on your toes because anything could happen. You have your ‘jump scare’ moments and the grotesque transformations of the creature in the basement, but for me the interesting bit is about the characters. Not only the main protagonist and how she came to inherit the pub and why she does what she does, or Neil, who is more twisted and was actually the protagonist of the short movie. We embed part of the movie into the feature, but it’s also about Baghead and why she is down there.


It's amazing when you're watching a movie like BAGHEAD and nobody cares about the witch in the basement. Why was she trapped? What did she do wrong? This film is about the twisted abuse of power and how because you’re different, you're supposed to be scary, then we’re allowed to trap you in the basement and do whatever we want to you, and you have to serve us and give us your powers.


For me it’s the combination of these themes and characters that makes the story interesting. It might be the more hardcore or fans of classic horror are looking for something different, but for me every movie has a different audience. I do what I think is interesting because if you're not faithful to what interests you, you're just going to pretend, and the movie is going to suffer because of that.


BAGHEAD is in UK cinemas now courtesy of StudioCanal.



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