Rejoice! I finally watched The Baby. After all that struggling and complaining I have finally set my eyes on what I had assumed would be a really twisted and somewhat disturbing film. My assumptions were mostly right although personally the entirety of the film didn't leave me feeling disturbed save for one or two moments in particular. But as we know-- one disturbing moment does not a disturbing movie make. Or something like that.
The Baby is about a social worker named Ann Gentry whose next assignment is the Wadsworth clan. If visions of the Hills Clan or the family from Spider Baby are dancing in your head--it's not quite the same. These people aren't outwardly crazy, they just seem a little....different. The family consists of the boozy mother, 2 daughters and a 21 year old son who is kept in a crib and diapers aptly named--The Baby. Ann makes it her duty to expose the family as she believes they have kept The Baby in an infantile state on purpose, using punishments and torture to keep him from growing up mentally. As the film moves on however, Ann's motives start getting a little fuzzy and we soon find out that she may not be as innocent as we once believed.
For some reason my memory is recalling when I first decided to put this movie on my queue. I seem to remember something about how the mother made women have sex with "the baby" and that the baby could talk, he just acted like a baby. I have no idea why I thought this as the Netflix description says nothing like that. Maybe I'm just so used to so much raping and sex with babies that it just seemed like the natural course of events for this film to take. As luck would have it however--the Baby really is just a baby, only he's 21. This is probably one of the most jarring aspects about the film. At some point they classify him as simply being "mentally retarded" which really makes you question the necessity of keeping him in diapers, baby bibs and little baby pajamas. Is it because the 70s were different times? I hope not. But then again, that would have been the first sign to remove The Baby if Ann Gentry really WAS a social worker. Or at least I hope so.
Regardless, seeing a 21 year old man being a baby is pretty awkward and creepy--and worse--is that all the adults treat him like baby and kind of like a puppy too. This I think is the underlying disturbing nature, although it kind of starts to wear off after a while. It's upsetting at first but after a while we become somewhat accustomed to it. This is a very different effect say from the likes of Aftermath or I Spit On Your Grave where the raping--never becomes less upsetting. For this reason alone I will have to say that The Baby will not be winning a spot on my most disturbing movies of all time list.
As I said above there are two disturbing moments. The first involves The Baby's babysitter, which alone is enough to weird you out. Imagine being hired for a babysitting job where the baby is 21 years old and still sleeps in a crib? Anywho, the babysitter attempts to comfort The Baby, who begins to get a little grabby. After some hesitation, the babysitter allows the baby to suck on her teat. This is odd because A. the babysitter was not pregnant and most likely would not have any milk in there and B. she seems to get turned on just a little. The level of discomfort rises staggeringly when the mother and daughters walk in on this event, causing a nice beating of the babysitter. Although let's be honest--who wants their baby sucking on someone else's teat? Beating deserved.
The second disturbing moment is somewhat greater although the bulk of it is left up to our imagination. Late at night one of the sisters comes into Baby's room and disrobes. She then gets into the crib naked. We do not see what happens after that but I'd say it's pretty safe to assume that she had sex with him. How this works, we will never know--and we will never want to know. It's gross, it's creepy and yes it is disturbing but unfortunately the film never seems to rise back to those levels of disturbia.
We have it in our minds that this family is so twisted and so deranged and yet nothing is really ever shown to us, except this moment that makes us believe that. There is a brief segment where one of the sisters tortures The Baby but it is broken up by the other sister and the mother. I guess my main gripe with the film as a whole is that we don't get to know a whole lot about the Wadsworth clan. Nearly everything we think we know is based off of an assumption by Ann Gentry. Who knows if The Baby really is capable of being a fully grown person? Who knows if the mother harbors sour feelings about the Dad now out of the picture, that she focuses all her anger on Baby? The thing about The Baby--is that he really isn't treated all that badly--from a baby stand point of course. As a 21 year old yes he is treated horribly but I'm really not seeing a lot of evidence that he isn't treated kindly as a baby.
There's also a certain amount of question regarding Ann's motives at the end and worse still--her mother's motives. It's one of the most abrupt changes in character that I've ever seen and a moment that really makes you question the reality of the situation. Because SPOILER.....who is just able to kill 3 people that easily? I would understand if they tried to kill her but did they really? All they really did was do a shitty job of tying her up in the basement. Not only that, but it would be pretty easy to figure out what happened to the Baby and to the Wadsworth clan. Everything seemed so dodgy and wrapped up so quickly at the end that it really all just seemed to be a little too ridiculous for me to handle. The very end of course is pretty surprising, and really makes me question Ann's own sanity--which I suppose is the point.
Overall I mostly felt like The Baby had some big problems with characterization. No character is really that strong in this. Ann appears to be, but when we see her true self at the end--it leaves us feeling cheated. Who are these people really? Why do we hate the Wadsworth clan so much? It was like they were trying to make us super creeped out by the Wadsworth but it never reached that point for me. I guess overall I'd say The Baby is just really.....weird. Not nearly as shocking as I would have guessed which I suppose is a bit of a disappointment in the long run. Oh well, we'll always have Aftermath at least.
Alright, I won't pretend that I'm not terribly upset. I'M UPSET. I had been longing for this movie for days and days and after so disappointed with the arrival of Dead Silence--I was really counting on The Baby to lift my spirits. What will I do now? If you said cry-- you are right.