February 13, 2013

Movie Review: The Baby (1973)

Say what you will about Netflix's selection of current films, I am more than happy with their selection of older, weirder, and bizarre fare. During my browsing through the selections, I happened to stumble upon this bizarre offering from 1973. The move is called The Baby and it is certainly one of the stranger films I have come across that bears the PG rating, perhaps not quite as out there as The Devil's Rain, but it is certainly out there. If you are into cult oddities and like the weird, this is one you will want to check out, don't let the PG rating scare you off.

The Baby is a film that contains no nudity, sex, or gore, and very little blood, or appreciable violence. Even without those mainstays of the horror and exploitation cinema of the era, The Baby manages to unsettle and captivate. It is a battle of wills that brings to mind such disparate titles as Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and Spider Baby. Dysfunctional families are nothing new to the genre, but that matters not when execution is on their side.

There is really not a whole lot to the story and it wold be very easy to give it away. Let's give you the basics. The movie is about the odd Wadsworth family and a new social worker who comes into their life. The center of everyone's attention is Baby (David Mooney, credited as David Manzy), a grown man who acts like and is treated like a, well, baby. He sleeps in a crib, wears diapers, and doesn't talk. He is kept under the overprotective thumb of his mother (Ruth Roman) and two older half sisters, Germaine (Marianna Hill) and Alba (Susanne Zenor).

Into their life comes Anne Gentry (Anjannette Comer), a social worker who takes a keen interest in Baby (and yes, that is his name). What follows is a battle of wills between the Wadsworth clan and Anne, the family seek to protect their own and Anne becomes ever more entwined in the family, drawing closer to Baby. Rest assured, Anne's interest in Baby is not completely altruistic, just wait for all to be revealed.

The performances are very good, weird, bizarre, teetering on the edges of believability but always feeling real. You may find yourself wondering how and why everyone just accepts Baby and allows the treatment to go on, but within the close knit family, sometimes things cannot be explained and just are. They have an interesting dynamic that is thrown off with the unshakable presence of Anne. Why is she so interested in Baby? What secrets does she have?

Director Ted Post, working from a screenplay by Abe Polsky, does a fine job of playing along the line of realism. He keeps things bizarre and off kilter, reigning in the larger than life performances, living them just north of over the top, just enough to be unsettling.

The Baby is a weird slice of restrained bizarreness in an era where exploitation cinema was really beginning to go for the gusto. The result is a film that is compelling, unsettling, and well worth your time.


Related Posts with Thumbnails


Post a Comment