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“You have to be interested in your story” — Director Alberto Corredor Talks Baghead

5 min read
Freya Allan in Baghead

New year, new — and Baghead is kicking off 2024 with a bang. Iris (Freya Allan) is estranged from her widower father (Peter Mullan). After his death, she inherits a pub with a 400-year-old she-devil locked up in the basement… as one normally does. In this case, her face is concealed by an old sack, nicknamed “Baghead.” FILMHOUNDS spoke to director Alberto Corredor about his new horror icon that we'll love to be scared by.

The idea of talking to the dead is by no means new. How did this particular concept come about?

I read the short story which had the idea of being able to talk to the dead but instead of using a medium, YOU see the person which creates a very different atmosphere. I said we should make the short and then use it as a calling card, a proof of concept for a feature as I could see already working on the visuals of the witch in the basement, that it could work as a longer story. A lot of time and effort went into it. It was always about grief but also about family and how grief can make us do things we really don't want to do. Having this character that allows you to touch base with a dead loved one but only for two minutes creates friction because you never have enough time to close the wounds from the past and find out why something has happened.  It was a very collaborative process working with the screenwriters and we were able to push some more about family and indeed what happened with the witch. She used to be a person and now she is in the basement – how did that happen?  You have to be interested in the story you're working on otherwise why would you do it?

 

Apparently, Carpenter was an influence on the look of Baghead. Were there any others?

Many of his films came together to influence the roughness and body pain of the witch when she's changing. There was also a lot of influence from J-horror — when I discovered that years ago I knew those visuals would impact my own work and another big influence is Guillermo Del Toro. I'm like the grittier, nastier brother of GDT and I made my witch a bit rougher and with more pain infused in the character. But I would love to see what he would have done with the character of Baghead…

 

How does your experience in editing help with your directing? Are you able to cut the film in your head as you're shooting?

It helps when you're shooting and you need to keep moving and keep getting the takes as it was a low-budget movie so we didn't have the luxury of many many takes so at some point you have to say yes this will cut together and move on. On the other hand, sometimes I spent too long wondering about whether it would cut together and I felt a little constrained at the beginning. It took me a few days on set until I could change my hat and say, “Look mate, now you are a director so start directing and stop editing!”

 

There is a distinct feel to Baghead and that is in part because of the colour. Was that always your intention to make it look that way?

Right from the beginning I always saw it that way, that it would look a bit rough in part. When you go into the basement you are entering the realm of the dead. I had that conversation with the DOP from the start that when we are in the basement, the colours start fading. Maybe we could have been a bit more extreme even but I think it was a good balance in the end.

 

Were the Baghead sets or real places? They look so authentic.

We scouted so much of Berlin to try to find a perfect location to use but they were either unavailable or impractical to film in so in the end the basement was a set build. We spent most of the budget on it I think as it is really one of the characters. Using a set allowed us to work faster and have more freedom too. Also, we could also show the passage of time using elements stored down there.

 

People may associate' bag on head' with Friday the 13th Part 2. Is that why she has that particular feature?

Apart from the obvious design element, is also that a mask is scary. I'm a sucker for textures and having a burlap sack was perfect. I see the witch as being a bit like a magician. She is one person under the sack but when she takes off the burlap she is someone else, like a magician doing their tricks. It was necessary too as otherwise the transition would have been less scary and less personal in a sense because you lose the shock of seeing the new person there. So the bag over the head was both a design and story element.

 

What inspired the look of the witch herself? It reminded me a little of Apostle from Gareth Evans…

Apostle is a movie that I love but there are other things that influenced her creation more. The most important thing for me was that it was all about paganism. Classic witches with long fingernails and sharp teeth weren't enough for me. That belongs to the past. The way she suffered to become Baghead needed to be reflected in the makeup and the prosthetics and the artists did a fantastic job. As well as her pain, I referenced runes in her face which also tell her story.

Silent Hill was a big influence too showing that sometimes these people are not monsters but it's all about what happens to them, what they have been through to end up looking like that, and finally of course Hellraiser because that is a classic where you see Pinhead and think, oh yeah I'm not going to forget THAT face.

 

Talk to Me was very popular last year — although these are different, there are undeniable similarities too. Do you think that will help Baghead or hinder it?

I haven't watched Talk to Me yet. Many people have asked me about it but I read the synopsis and knew if I watched it, I would be destroyed because our movie should have been released earlier but because of the pandemic it was postponed.

I don't know honestly if it will impact how many people go to see Baghead, I hope of course it doesn't put them off. And I will watch Talk to Me, but when all the publicity for Baghead is over.

 

Big Question — will we see Baghead again?

I don't know, I would love to explore more about her but of course, it depends on the appetite of the audience and of course the producers. But let's see…

Baghead is out in cinemas now.