Rated: R Reviewed by: Jim Release date: July 4, 2008 Released by: Sony Pictures Classics
The misleading Baghead is a sleek, if rarely sophisticated home-movie probably best appreciated by insiders or those into their own semi-autobiographical projects.
As directed by the Duplass Brothers, part of a current vanguard cinema wave, the picture serves up some satirical sass from weekend screenwriting at a remote cabin in the woods.
YouTube devotees may take to the untrained shooting techniques and "natural" acting as it has fun with the horror genre, and is definitely more realistic than The Strangers, something which came across as depressingly crude.
Staying just on the periphery of the mainstream, Baghead allows one to see characters that seem like real people, unlike those in "scary" Hollywood fare like the recent Prom Night. It doesn't make the filmmaking in the woods much of a gimmick.
For over a decade the virile Matt (Ross Partridge) and on-again-off-again girlfriend Catherine (Elise Muller) have had their ups and downs. Matt's close chum Chad (Steve Zissis) has fallen for Michelle (Greta Gerwig), but she becomes more attentive to the best friend. Chad has brotherly qualities, besides being like a best friend, according to Michelle.
So, the camerawork has something in common with The Blair Witch Project queasiness as it penetrates the dynamic of these two couples with awkward coquettish flair.
For all of the instabilities revealed, once the film gets into its titular, stalking nature, but there is little payoff, perhaps in part because of too much of a cerebral flirtation into the characterizations.
Still, this underground effort wears its bag proud, hardly pretentious or even portentous, not really aiming for the big picture, in a mostly clever, independent way volleying well with wannable actors on a retreat.