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"It's a space to allow audiences to question morality." Freya Allan talks about Baghead and horror movies

“It’s a space to allow audiences to question morality.” Freya Allan talks about Baghead and horror movies

Freya Allan talks to us about her new horror Baghead, working with Peter Mullen and how excited she is for people to see Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.

Directed by Alberto Corredor and based on his short movie of the same name, Baghead follows Iris (played by The Witcher’s Freya Allan) who, following the death of her estranged father (Peter Mullan), learns she has inherited a run-down, centuries-old pub in. Berlin, but when she gets there, she realises the pubs comes with a lot more than some dodgy foundations.

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.

We sat down with Freya Allan to talk about horror movies, learning on the job and whether Baghead might become this year’s must-have Halloween costume.

How did everything start with you getting involved with Baghead?

I got sent the script and the short film and I then had a conversation with Alberto and decided to do it. I honestly didn’t know what I was going into really, but I was like, ‘let’s do it!’. Let’s just have the challenge. It was my first feature role and I’ve realised that actually, you do learn a lot doing a horror film. You learn certain things that you wouldn’t necessarily have done before. It was a good experience.

What’s it like working on a horror movie? Is it pretty intense?

It is intense in moments. There’s always an element of intensity on any set because everyone wants to do their best job, but it’s also very silly in moments, honestly, because there are so many moments where it’s just so unbelievable what you’re doing! You’re having a moment where you’re like, ‘I’m really struggling to believe in this myself’, as in through the character.

So I think that was the main challenge of it. The dialogue scenes were my safe space, but then when you are confronted with the horror element and having to surrender to the genre that’s where it became more challenging and less instinctual. It was a great learning process.

How do you get into the headspace for those intense horror scenes?

I’ll fully admit that I learned on that job how I like to tackle that. What I learned is that it largely revolves around creating a bodily reaction for yourself. It took me so long to work it out but it was as simple as me jogging on the spot and doing jumping jacks and making myself out of breath and making my heart rate go up. Then it was instantly easier. I’d be shattered by the end of the day!

I’m so glad I learned that because I’ve been able to use that on projects since.

Freya Allan had to physically get her heart rate up to work on the intense horror scenes in Baghead.

How would you describe your character Iris?

She’s at this crossroads in life where she’s being thrown into the depths of adulthood. She’s making that transition from being a child to being an adult and having to survive in the world and survive with not a lot of support networks around her. She’s not had her parents, she’s grown up in the foster care system and she only really has her best friend as a support. So I think she’s really trying to find her purpose in life and find her stability.

I think, ironically, inheriting that pub feels like her first opportunity of that. To have some kind of financial security and also just the feeling of a direction.

What was it like working with Peter Mullen?

Amazing! He’s great. I didn’t get to speak to him too much but when I did, I was like, ‘I really like him’.

I would love to work with him again. He had some great insight into the acting world. So it was great that he got to be in the film.

I almost wish I could do the scene with him again, now that two years have passed. You always feel like that though. I want to do that scene with him again now and do different things. He’d be a great actor to work with again.

Peter Mullen plays Iris’ estranged father in Baghead, who leaves her an inheritance that comes with a terrible secret.

Baghead is a horror movie but it’s got some in-depth themes like loneliness and grief…

I feel like around anything to do with horror there’s usually a big psychological element. Because it’s people in situations where they’re having to make choices that are going to be very important to their survival.

That can stir up where they’ve come from and why they are choosing to make those decisions. That was a big thing that I leaned on when I was doing it. So much is the typical horror thing of like, ‘why are they doing that’? But I really had to lean on her desperation for that kind of purpose and feeling like she has something special.

It’s a space to allow audiences to question morality and choice. I saw the recent SAW film and that’s a typical example of it raising a full, almost philosophical debate over what’s right and wrong.

I think it’s a natural human thing to be like, ‘what would I do in that situation;? I think horror films allow people to do that. Who doesn’t when they’re watching a horror film?

Are you a horror movie fan?

I wouldn’t say that that’s the genre I go to watch but I think it’s fun. Sometimes people want to get scared. It’s like going to Thorpe Park – you want to chase that adrenaline.

I’ve seen a few [horror movies]. The ones that I’m mainly drawn to are the ones where it’s something that could really happen. Like SAW. It could actually happen. Another really messed up one that comes to mind is The Human Centipede. That’s messed up!

I think that’s the biggest chance you have of being able to scare me in a horror film because I don’t think I get that scared and I don’t know if that’s being an actor, or just being cynical and not believing it!

What kind of scares can audiences expect in Baghead?

It has a lot of jump scares. Even I got jump scared! I went to see a screening with my friends and they literally were grabbing on to me being like, ‘why did you bring me here?’.

[It was] brilliant getting to really see it work and the whole audience was just jumping out of their skin.

Do you think Baghead could be a Halloween costume this year?

That would be really funny! We actually joked about that at the time when we were shooting. If this became a thing we would all find it hysterical. Like if I start seeing at Halloween, people out walking around with bags on their heads that really would be a bucket list moment.

Iris has a great relationship with Katie (Ruby Barker), how did you go about creating that bond with Ruby to bring that connection onto the screen?

When I first got out [to Berlin, where the movie was shot], I was in a bit of an anti-social bubble for some reason and my mum was with me at the time. Jeremy [who plays Neil] and Ruby were going out somewhere and my mum’s like, ‘you should just go’ and I was like, ‘okay’. I was being a bit of a hermit.

Anyway, I went out with them and we had some great memories. We had some really fun times. We were in Berlin and I think none of us knew Berlin that well, so getting to experience that together, we all really bonded and it meant that when we were shooting it was so much easier and there was instantly this trust, we instantly became very close. So I’m very glad my mum persuaded me to go out with them!

Freya Allan, Jeremy Irvine and Ruby Barker all bonded while exploring Berlin.

What else are you excited for people to see from you this year?

I’m excited for them to see Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. That’s the thing I’m most excited for. I think it’s gonna be a great movie. So check that out!

Baghead releases in UK cinemas on 26 January 2024. Read the SciFiNow review here and check out a clip from the movie below…