2008’s BABY BLUES (be careful there are two films from ‘08 which bear this title!) is a snarling little wombat of a movie and, like a misanthropic reality show contestant, it’s not here to make friends. A minimum of blood is actually spilt on screen, but its subject matter crosses a line that is sure to leave thin-skinned viewers clutching their pearls and mentally designing picket signs. Helen Lovejoy, ya better sit down, this movie is about a mommy who kills her very own children! Now, it’s a well known fact that the fairer sex is completely incapable of such atrocities in real life and that the history of the world has absolutely zero examples of a mother injuring her own children, but here it is anyway…they’ve gone and made a female version of THE SHINING!
This is a difficult little movie folks, and that’s why I like it. It’s not easy watching a mother decide that in order to properly clean house some moppet heads have to roll, but horror never signed up to be easy. In fact, horror pretty much yearns to make you feel a bit uncomfortable and my advice is to let it. I’m saying this because some viewers really are taking offense to this movie, which, in a way, I think is a good thing. Can someone please explain to me why Jack Torrance can run about swinging an axe at his family and wind up with his grinning mug on a Spencer’s Gifts refrigerator magnet, but as soon as a Mom decides to grab a meat cleaver and follow suit people get all fidgety? Sounds like some ol’ fashioned sexism to me! C’mon, there are not enough female horror icons as it is out there. I think it’s time we got behind our trauma-mommas and support their right to go nut-zo! Sure this mom actually snuffs an infant (off camera by the way) and I know nobody likes that idea much but omelets or eggs people? Do you want your delicious scary omelets or do you want to keep your boring eggs?
As illustrated by our list of the 10 MOST HORRIFYING MOVIE MOMS, there is a rich history of killer moms in horror cinema, so what is so especially unnerving about this one? (I mean besides the whole infanticide bit.) My guess is that part of the unease comes from the fact that BABY BLUES catches the viewer off guard by showing a pretty accurate and sympathetic view of mental illness in the beginning (I was reminded of the brilliant CLEAN, SHAVEN) and then it abruptly morphs into full on genuine stalk and slash by the end (Mom really does give Michael Myers a run for his money.) It’s a sharp turn to ask of an audience within such a short time. This clash of tones becomes shriller still when the poor soul we watched fighting off crying jags and audio hallucinations earlier in the film begins spouting out one too many clever zingers ala “Here’s Johnny!” It’s sort of like watching the LIFETIME Channel with one eye and FEARNET with the other, but gee; didn’t I just describe the greatest thing ever? I’ll admit that the logic defying closing scene is nearly impossible to swallow, but I chomped my nails like a cob of corn throughout the film and that’s more than enough for me.
Directors LARS E. JACOBSON and AMARDEEP KALEKA do a great job spotlighting images of warm domestic paraphernalia and creating ominous environments out of the typically mundane. There are some great performances here too from actors you’ll no doubt see much more of in the future. COLLEEN PORCH as “Mom” fearlessly goes from alpha to omega and brings to mind ANGELINA JOLIE when she still had some moxie and lived on Earth (oh, the halcyon days of GIA). RIDGE CANIPE as the final kid never seems less than real and that too can be said of the young actors who play his siblings. JOEL BRYANT as “Dad,” besides providing a much-needed dose of gravitizing stability, has now earned the title of permanent Kindertrauma pin-up (I had to explain to Aunt John that the title BABY BLUES was a reference to postpartum depression and not JOEL’s peepers.) This movie is certainly not for everybody, but if you dig real horror and are not afraid of a little squirming you should check it out. Heck, I’ll go one further and call it the perfect Mother’s Day gift!