by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

I guess one would have to call this a post-postmodern film, in that it is a self-consciously post-modern film about the making of post-modern films. Frankly, that's about as much "meta" as I can handle.

A group of indie actors, realizing that they are not going to be working steadily, are inspired to make their own film by a fellow performer who did just that to get himself a starring role. What does it take? If the film requires no lighting or special effects, and assuming they write the script and play all the parts themselves, they can do it for a few hundred dollars with a home-quality digital video camera and an idea. The latter is the real problem. Even the most sincere indie effort requires some kind of idea. How to come up with one?

"Hey, I know. Let's lock ourselves in a cabin in the woods for an entire weekend and concentrate on nothing else but creating our film."

They give that a try but, human nature being what it is, other things get in the way. Alcohol, for example. And love. The group consists of two single young men and two single young women and the predictable romantic interactions between them, which are more complicated than they need to be because one of the women is pursuing one of the guys, while the other guy pursues her. Chemistry rules the evening and no movie starts to emerge.

While they are out there the first night, one of the women sees something in the woods which seems to be a man with a grocery bag over his head. It is apparently not The Unknown Comic. She then dreams of the Baghead. Over breakfast she tells the others of her experiences. Are they frightened? Not at all. The leader of the group snaps his fingers and says, "That's our Hitler!" Metaphorically.

The Baghead is just the movie idea they need.

Now the movie, indeed both movies, begin in earnest: the one they are in, and the one they are writing. They are four people in the words being scared by a guy with a bag over his head while they write a movie about four people in the woods being scared by a guy with bag over his head. And they are in a movie. The one you are watching.

Why don't they have the good sense to go home and finish their movie script in safety? And just who is the Baghead? I guess those mysteries are the reasons why you should be intrigued by the movie. The only way I'll spoil it is by noting that it is ultimately not a horror film, although it shares some of that genre's characteristics. It is a film about the process of making films.

That all sounds kinda cheesy on paper, but this mumblecore film actually has some good ideas, and the resolution actually provides a sensible explanation. Unfortunately, the basic ideas are ruined by two elements: poor acting and improvised dialogue. Let's face it, when people get a camera stuck in their faces and are told to start improvising, they do not come up with witty and interesting things to say unless they happen to be Robin Williams or Larry David or John C Reilly. Even great writers like David don't come up with brilliant dialogue in this way. They write and polish and test out the material on friends and co-authors. Then they throw out the stuff that fails. Most of our daily conversations, even those of writers, are mundane or derivative, and therein lies the essential problem with all mumblecore movies. Even when the films start with a good idea, that spark is snuffed by 90 minutes of boring dialogue which lacks not only the polish a writer would add, but also the very presence of a writer.

Here's a tip for you youngsters: actors and writers are two different kinds of people. You would not hire plumbers to do your algebra homework, so why would you ask actors to write your movie? Doing so might make the experience seem real, but you can get that same real experience by listening to your parents babble over breakfast. If you think other people would be interested in those same parental conversations that bore you, then you definitely have a future as a mumblecore filmmaker. But if you still feel the need to eat and pay the rent, you may want to keep your bartending job at Applebee's.


* widescreen

* 81 mins







1.5 Roger Ebert (of 4 stars)
2 James Berardinelli (of 4 stars)
62 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)
62 (of 100)




6.3 IMDB summary (of 10)
  Ridiculously overrated. Proper score would be a gentleman's 5.




Box Office Mojo. It grossed $140,000 in 18 theaters, presumably to the members of the cast and their friends and families.




  • Greta Gerwig shows her breasts.




Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


Some decent ideas ruined by incompetent execution. Almost unwatchable.