Interview – ‘Baghead’ director Alberto Corredor on being inspired by Guillermo del Toro and Japanese horror

Following the death of her estranged father (Peter Mullan), Iris (Freya Allan) learns she has inherited a run-down, centuries-old pub. She travels to Berlin to identify her father’s body and meet with The Solicitor (Ned Dennehy) to discuss the estate. Little does she know, when the deed is signed, she will become inextricably tied to an unspeakable entity that resides in the pub’s basement – Baghead – a shape-shifting creature that can transform into the dead.

Two thousand in cash for two minutes with the creature is all it takes for desperate loved ones to ease their grief. Neil (Jeremy Irvine), who has lost his wife, is Iris’ first customer. Like her father, Iris is tempted to exploit the creature’s powers and help desperate people for a price. But she soon discovers breaking the two-minute rule can have terrifying consequences. Together with her best friend Katie (Ruby Barker), Iris must battle to keep control of Baghead and figure out how to destroy her, before she destroys them.

Leading up to the Australian release of Baghead, in cinemas February 22, Nick L’Barrow had the chance to sit down with the films director, Alberto Corredor, about his horror inspirations, creating the physicality of the character of Baghead, and the one thing he felt like nailed in adapting a short film in to a feature.

Nick: I love the gothic-Guillermo Del Toro style horror aesthetic in the contemporary story setting, and how you mix those two worlds together. What was the process and decision behind using that gothic horror aesthetic for Baghead?

Alberto Corredor: Yeah, it’s very appropriate that you mentioned Guillermo Del Toro as I’m in Mexico! He is one of those directors that is really up there for me. I always say when I have these interviews that I define myself as Guillermo’s bastard brother [laughs]! The one who does what he does, but in a lower way! I’m applying my magical realism to finding a witch in the basement of a dingy part [of a bar].

But yes, that was all by design. That’s what we did in the short and that’s where we wanted to translate it into the feature. This atmosphere, for me, it was very important. When I spoke to Cale Finot, who is the director of photography, I gave him references. I wanted it to be grounded, but I also took my references from Japanese horror movies. I think that’s the aesthetic that shines through, I hope! When you watch those scenes, you can see that influence.

Nick: You mentioned the short film that features this original horror concept. Is being able to play in a world of new rules and horror lore something that excites you as a filmmaker?

Alberto Corredor: Obviously! And I would maybe like the next project to push it even more. Because at the beginning, you’re a bit timid with your first feature, and you play it a bit more conservative.

But it’s definitely my intention to make something— it’s very difficult to surprise anyone nowadays. And when you are a fan, and you watch it, you know what’s coming. So, for me, it was imperative that you have those moment’s where you go, “Oh shit! I wasn’t expecting this!”

It’s about the expectations and having them happen completely different. That was what made the short so successful, and that’s something I wanted to translate into the feature. I hope some of it has come through!

Nick: In the process of expanding the short film to a feature, what was the one thing you wanted to get right that you felt like you did get right?

Alberto Corredor: I think the witches appearance. We translated it and tried to push it a little bit. And managing to keep all the mythology around her, like the two minutes, the chair, and having to swallow and object of the deceased. That’s what makes it a special story, something that you haven’t seen before.

Nick: One of the coolest aspects of the witches appearance for me was the physicality of Baghead. What were the conversations with Anne Muller [Baghead] like in bringing her movements to life?

Alberto Corredor: I didn’t have to have many! If you met Anne you would realise, “Oh shit, you’re in trouble!” She is so full on. When I met her, she was scary! Even without the whole prosthetics! And not because of the appearances, but her energy is so full on.

Having her on set was brilliant, because we needed something who was an older woman, but I realised we needed someone who can bring the physicality, and that’s what she does. She’s very physical!

I think she also understood the character is also taking the mickey out of the people she’s talking to. And when she’s playing around, she’s shuffling around and then the very next moment she’s crawling on the ceiling! She was so important and I’m very happy with her performance!

Thank you to Alberto Corredor for his time, and to StudioCanal for organising the interview. Baghead is in Australian cinemas February 22.

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Nick L'Barrow
Nick L'Barrow
Nick is a Brisbane-based film/TV reviewer. He gained his following starting with his 60 second video reviews of all the latest releases on Instagram (@nicksflicksfix), before launching a monthly podcast with Peter Gray called Monthly Movie Marathon. Nick contributes to Novastream with interviews and reviews for the latest blockbusters.

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