Like some other film movements with cute names (Dogme, anyone?), the mumblecore genre seemed to flame out even as it began, with its practitioners apparently content to diminish safely within their own hazily defined boundaries.
Baghead, the latest from the directors of the seminal m-core entry The Puffy Chair, takes an ingenious—and perhaps necessary—shift into more accessible filmmaking. Okay, it's less of a shift than a sort of yawning amiable slouch, but you get my drift.
Beginning with a hilarious—and absolutely devastating—critique of indie film festivals, Jay and Mark Duplass's film follows four aspiring actors stuck in the lowest tier of extra-dom. Jealous of the success of a friend, they decide to head to a remote cabin for the weekend and write a movie featuring themselves in the leading roles. After one has a tequila-inspired dream involving a Jason Voorhees character lurking in the woods, they begin working on a horror film, only to quickly lose their shit when what appears to be the real McCoy begins stomping about outside.
The combination of horror and emo-speak may sound precious, but it works like a champion here, with each element somehow diffusing and enriching the other: After the first few genuine scares, whenever the handheld camera drunkenly moves towards a window during the middle of a fumbling conversation it's difficult not to shudder, on levels both ironic and otherwise. Those expecting a gorefest will most likely walk away perplexed, but viewers able to latch onto its wobbly wavelength will have a blast. If, upon reflection, it ultimately seems to be a little less than the sum of its parts, it's by design.