‘Baghead’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: Did Neil Kill Iris?

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While genres and franchises ebb and wane out of popularity, there’s one particular category of movies that has always stayed in vogue: horror. The Conjuring franchise has consistently earned truckloads of money. I mean, the last one was released during the height of the pandemic, and it still managed to be a hit. Its spin-offs, The Nun and Annabelle, have been really successful. The Insidious franchise has been going strong, and even though its latest entry wasn’t the best, it hit it out of the park. Franchise-starters or standalone films like Get Out, Us, Smile, and Five Nights at Freddy’s have been doing quite well. And as a horror fan, while I love them all, I have to admit that it’s the relatively moderate hit, Talk to Me, that has stayed on my mind since the first time I watched it. It’s just not the concept of a hand that allows you to talk to the dead that has fascinated me, but it’s something about the viscerality of those moments of communication that shook me to my core. A full year later, it seems like Baghead has tried to achieve something similar, and the results are questionable. So, let’s talk about it.

Spoiler Alert


What Is The Film About?

Alberto Corredor’s Baghead, based on his 2017 short film, is centered around a pub (which is somewhere in Berlin) called The Queen’s Head. Its owner, Owen Lark, records a video on a VHS tape, saying that whoever signs on the dotted line and becomes its caretaker will have to become the guardian of the titular creature residing in its basement. The deal is that Baghead will be bound to its guardian and vice versa for as long as he or she is alive. Baghead will apparently do everything in its power to escape the place and go out into the world, but the guardian has to stop her from doing so. By the way, a desperate guy wants to meet Baghead, but Owen shoos him away because he intends to kill her by burning her and bring an end to the curse. That plan backfires as Owen himself burns to his death. 

Owen’s estranged daughter, Iris, is informed about his death, and she travels to Berlin to identify the body and take care of The Queen’s Head (something that she had no idea about). The solicitor gives her a tour of the place and keeps urging her to deal with the pub as soon as possible. But Iris decides to stay the night and wait for her lawyer friend, Katie, to come over before looking into the legal aspect of the pub. Later that night, the guy from earlier, Neil, shows up again, asking Iris to take him to Baghead. He even offers her a huge amount of money. Iris tells him to come back the next day. As she realizes that she can extract as much moolah as she wants from Neil or from other people by simply taking them to the basement to get spooked, she decides to keep the place, which disappoints the solicitor. 

Upon arrival, Katie opposes Iris’s idea because of the spooky vibes, I guess. However, things truly hit the fan when Neil summons Baghead, gives her a piece of jewelry (which she consumes), and brings Regina, Neil’s mother (instead of his wife), back from the dead for a little over 2 minutes, causing absolute mayhem. That’s how Iris, Katie, and the audience learn that Baghead is an entity that is capable of channeling the spirit of a loved one whose item she has consumed. After those 2 minutes, Baghead can use that spirit to manipulate the person talking to her. Baghead only listens to her guardian, Iris, but she can toy with her, too. And under no circumstances is Baghead supposed to leave the basement, and nobody is supposed to go into the hole she comes out of. Now, whether or not Iris will continue this ordeal or seek to sell it off is what makes the crux of the story.


Did Neil kill Iris?

Katie comes across a photo of the Solicitor and Otto Vogler and learns about a place that he owned, while Iris continues to indulge Neil’s wishes of meeting his wife, Sarah because it’s an easy way to earn money. During Neil’s first meeting with Sarah, it’s revealed that Neil doesn’t want to bring her back from the dead because he wants to bid her goodbye since he probably didn’t get to do that, as Sarah died in a traffic collision. Neil wants to confront Sarah because he wants to know if she was cheating on him before she perished. Things go sideways, as usual, and Iris is forced to step in and tell Baghead to go back into her den. Following this altercation, Iris has a vision of her dad’s death after he tried to talk with his wife, Catherine, and another vision where Owen’s face turns into the bag of Baghead, and when that’s pulled off, it’s revealed to be Iris. As Iris nearly chokes to death, it becomes clear that Baghead has started to manipulate her because her powers are growing as she feeds on Neil and Iris’ sorrows. 

Katie and Iris try to reach out to the Solicitor so that they could cancel the deed of The Queen’s Head, but he seems to have vanished into thin air. Katie leaves Iris because she doesn’t want to abandon the place and goes in search of Otto Vogler. She finds some damning information (which is later spelled out by the spirit of Vogler being channeled through Baghead) about a cult called the Brotherhood, which abused a woman with the ability to talk to the dead. When she unleashed hell on humanity, the Brotherhood encased her in the caves around which The Queen’s Head currently exists. Centuries later, she was resurrected by that same Brotherhood, and they are now using guardians like Owen and Iris to contain Baghead. Since she can’t be killed and the deed can’t be undone (even by burning it), this is the only option.

During Baghead‘s ending, Iris does the unthinkable by going into the cave to search for Katie, only to find out that she has been killed by Baghead. She barely makes it out of there alive with the help of Neil, who then proceeds to drug her and put her to sleep so that he is able to make a deal with the devil. He wants to stay in touch with his wife for the rest of his life with the help of Baghead, but it’s apparent that as long as Iris is alive, Neil can’t become the guardian. To make things even more complicated, Sarah’s spirit tells Neil that she was pregnant when she died. Neil was insecure about his relationship with Sarah. She was understandably afraid of her, and she wanted to leave him. So, in order to get the truth out of her, he drugged her, which eventually led to the car crash, and that incident claimed not one but two lives. Baghead uses this information to coerce Neil into killing Iris. Guess what? Neil does kill Iris. However, he makes a fatal mistake. He brings Iris back before becoming Baghead’s guardian. 

So, with Iris’ soul in Baghead’s body, Baghead becomes her own guardian. She uses the spirits of Regina, Catherine, and Iris to terrorize Neil and then murders him. Then she burns down The Queen’s Head as well as the deed and walks away into the world, free to use everyone’s inability to let go of the memories of their loved ones to become stronger and give abusive men a spiked-up dose of their own medicine. If you’re wondering whether or not there was a way to dupe Baghead, there wasn’t one. She was subtly controlling everything, and she wouldn’t have slipped up. And even if Neil had found a loophole, he had to get his hands on that special wooden quill to sign the deed, which was last seen in the Solicitor’s possession. Also, why would you want Neil to win? He was an abuser and a murderer. It’s a good thing that Baghead ended up being victorious. She deserved to succeed, and I hope she finds all the last living members of the Brotherhood and finishes them off.


Final Thoughts

If you have seen Talk to Me, you can see the parallels between it and Baghead. Talking to the dead via something evil, the lasting effects of grief and trauma, the timer, and, of course, the open ending with the aforementioned evil finding a way to thrive—it’s there in both of those movies. Now, as much as I love Talk to Me, the short film by Alberto Corredor came out in 2017 or 2018. So, the general concept was out there before Danny and Michael Philippou even made their film. Talk to Me was released in 2022 at the Adelaide Film Festival. So, I am guessing the production process happened between 2019 and 2021. I don’t know if it’s a case of two sets of artists in two separate countries coming up with similar stories and then wielding them in their own ways or if the Philippous saw Baghead (the short film) and decided to turn it into Talk to Me. I don’t have any concrete proof, but all the reviews of Baghead (the feature film) calling it a wannabe version of Talk to Me are rubbing me in the wrong way, especially when the original blueprint precedes the A24-distributed movie. Yes, both of these movies use updated versions of the Ouija board or mediums, but you can clearly see why one feels like the other, and just because the feature-length version of Baghead has come after Talk to Me, everyone thinks the former is a copy of the latter. I don’t know if any plagiarism has happened, but I am saying that reviewers should do their research, especially if they claim to be horror fans, before making vague assumptions.

Okay, coming to the movie itself, Baghead is a mixed bag (I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself). It feels like parts of the film have been made by someone who has a lot of energy and an eye for inventive visual storytelling. Then, the rest was made by someone in autopilot mode. It’s not like you can see the life draining out of the film as it progresses from one act to another. Every act has highs and lows. For example, the opening 15 minutes of the film are great. There are match-cuts, interesting use of the architecture, and a sense of curiosity. The build-up to the meeting with Baghead is fine. The use of VFX and SFX to convey the fact that Regina drowned is minimal and fantastic. Then, the film becomes quite generic until Neil’s second meeting with Baghead. The moment when the blinking lights are used as the only light source in the basement is brilliant. I can’t even imagine how that scene would’ve felt on the big screen. Iris’ visions are exquisite, especially the moment when Owen tears off his face to reveal the bag. The next time the film regains its mojo is when it uses a split-diopter shot to put Iris, Neil, and Baghead in one frame. Since it ends things on a strong note, the overall viewing experience does seem worthwhile. So, if Corredor had been a little more ambitious and consistent with his visuals and scares to emphasize the themes of the narrative, I think his film would’ve been a slam dunk.

Talking about the themes of Baghead, I love how it slowly turned into a story of feminine rage taking a physical form. It shows that even an ancient entity, which has become a little demonic, is better than a man. The performances from the entire cast are great. Freya Allan has already proved how good she is in The Witcher series, and she is all set to be in the middle of a blockbuster like Kingdom of the Planet of Apes. So, it’s nice to see her deliver a horror film like this in between such heavy-duty projects. Ruby Barker, of Bridgerton fame, is great, and her character undoubtedly deserved better. Jeremy Irvine plays Neil’s deceptive nature perfectly. Anne Muller as the titular monster deserves a round of applause because it’s a physically demanding performance. The cameos from Svenja Jung, Ned Dennehy, Julika Jenkins, and Saffron Burrows are pretty cool. However, Peter Mullan takes the cake, despite his limited screen time. He injects Owen with so much grief, pain, and gravitas, and then expresses it all with that deep, gravely voice; it’s excellent. If that makes you want to watch Baghead, please give it a try. And, by all means, feel free to watch Talk to Me as well and do a comparative study of the two.


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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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