The ghosts of 2023

It’s a trio of flicks from 2023 that feature protagonists dealing with varying levels of paranormal activity, but there was only one winner here for me.

BAGHEAD (2023)

It is so satisfying to be getting some fresh approaches to horror in the sea of generic flicks coming out these days. Baghead is sort of like a different take on the Talk To Me concept, where talking to the dead becomes a deadly addiction.

A young woman inherits a pub…that looks like a fricking castle to me. Didn’t quite get that part.

However, this flick doesn’t waste any time in getting to the good stuff. It turns out her now deceased father was keeping a “woman” called Baghead locked away in the basement. This ghoul has the ability to let you speak to a dead person of your choice, but there are conditions.

You can’t speak to the dead person for more than two minutes. Baghead comes out of a hole in the wall when you call on her, and you are never to follow her back into the hole (my gay ass is safe because I’d never follow any woman into any hole). You need to take off her bag to speak to the dead person, and then you need to cover her head back up to cut off communication. And finally, you are to never let her leave the basement, so you must strap her to a chair to keep her from getting away.

It’s actually a cruel story, the idea being that you literally have this woman imprisoned in a dungeon and use her for your own selfish needs. Of course that’s why it’s so delicious when she starts creeping into your mind, leading you down a slippery slope where she becomes stronger and you become…doomed!

The film manages to stay focused thanks to a minimal number of characters. There’s the main girl, her friend, and some dude who is willing to pay money to get a little alone time with Baghead. Eventually, the film does start to become a bit repetitive, and the pacing falters as the trio gets ensnared in Baghead’s web, but there are really some great twists in the plot right through to the end. The only part that was a bit hokey for me was the presentation of a ghost that gives a ridiculous monologue to one of the characters as a device to provide exposition on Baghead’s origins to the audience.


It’s irrelevant to me, but this movie is apparently based on some actual social media story. What drew me in was that it is an evil ghost kid movie where the main protagonist is a gay guy, which lands this one on the homo horror movies page.

We go all the way back to 1996 to start the story with a boy being bullied online. Damn. 1996 is like ancient history when it comes to being online. Seriously, barely anyone had a home computer at that time, let alone the internet at their fingertips on a phone.

In the present day we meet Adam, who works for Buzzfeed, which is run by Justin Long. Adam’s articles aren’t doing so well, but his luck changes—for better and for worse—when he begins having sleep paralysis, during which a little ghost boy appears on a rocking chair in the corner of his bedroom. Those encounters become his new online serialized story.

Things start off strong, with a classic ghostly death scene when two boys are bullying someone else online. The concept of the little boy from the beginning getting revenge on modern day cyber bullies is awesome, and Adam ends up being targeted because he chooses to feed the trolls with nasty vitriol rather than ignoring them.

Terrorized by the ghost kid, Adam starts investigating what led to the kid turning into a vindictive ghost that connects with victims through social media threads. It’s all very The Ring without the videotape. There’s also a catch presented at the beginning that doesn’t get much needed exploitation—you’re supposed to only be able to ask “Dear David” two questions or else. Even David’s backstory is pretty cool and very dark. The problem is the film focuses solely on Adam, so we’re just constantly bombarded by nightmare-like sequences that have no payoff beyond Adam waking up sweating. Sure they’re creepy clips, but you never feel a sense of dread while watching them because you know Adam is going to survive to carry us to the conclusion of this tale.

There are no other victims here after the first bully dies, making that death scene seem out of place. Adam has friends and a boyfriend, and it would have been nice if they also got drawn into the horror (and them dying would have been even better). It also would have been great if there had been a clearer parallel between Adam being gay and the boy being bullied. It’s hinted at—I think—but never fully realized, making Adam’s sexuality virtually irrelevant. Instead it feels like the whole point of the movie is for Adam to recognize that he doesn’t open up to those closest to him. At the same time, the movie is also making a statement about our fixation on social media, how anonymous likes and followers are more important than having actual people in our lives, and how it has overtaken our ability to interact in the real world.


This one was a huge disappointment for me as a horror hound. Things start off promising, with nuns hanging a girl as a witch in the 1800s.

In the present day, a white man and his Muslim fiancé are going on vacation with his friends and his sister to a beautiful guesthouse in the country.

I should have known this one was going to skimp on the horror when an elaborate run-in with a cult in red robes and masks proves to be a nothing burger. Ugh.

And we just get more helpings of nothing burgers after that. The Muslim fiancé keeps having visions and dreams of ghostly apparitions. However, that’s the least of her problems. She begins getting treated like shit by everyone else because she’s Muslim. The bullying becomes the central theme of most of the movie.

And you can forget about a hanged ghost girl being the real threat. This is one of those movies that pulls the rug out from under your feet before all is said and done. Even the mid-end credits scene is a letdown.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at
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