Sometimes one wonders: “How can you survive something like this ?”. Never was the opening line of a Gorki song so relevant as for this movie (difficult for non Belgian readers, since this is a Belgian band). Because you will surely need perseverance to complete this wannabe horror. Are you expecting a kind of “Rosemary’s baby” story ? Well, turn it off because it’s nothing like that. I had an inkling already from the beginning with the first paranormal phenomenon (or delusion). This is going to turn out bad because it really looked cheap and old-fashioned. But there were some factors that made sure I didn’t classify it immediately in the category “Hopeless cases”.
First the very successful wide shots of the Scottish landscape. The Scottish Highlands are beautifully portrayed with its hills and idyllic lakes. And when a local resident, who speaks with a blandly Scottish accent, participates in this movie, the big picture is complete. And that’s how this film begins. A mobile home driving on a narrow and winding road. A subtle way to show that the place where Rose (Carina Birrell) and Theo (David Wayman) are heading for, lies far from civilization. Total isolation where even a mobile phone can’t be used. But admit it. You also can admire such wonderful pictures on “National Geographic”.
In general “Demon Baby” is far from scary or creepy. The musical accompaniment and sound effects try to create a creepy atmosphere and support the scarce scares. However, they didn’t succeed in bringing real frightening moments, because they simply weren’t very frightening from the start. A few hazy appearances and knocking sounds (as if the sound technician was banging his huge woolly microphone against something) aren’t particularly creepy. There’s only one specific moment I would call scary (to a limited extent). But ultimately that’s not sufficient enough for a horror / thriller.
Next I admired the acting of the for me unknown actress Birrell. Actually, her performance is the reason why I didn’t qualify it as an utter crap movie (And no, it’s not because of the shower scene). A proper interpretation reflecting the panicky, unstable condition and the uncontrolled mood swings. She’s a totally unpredictable character, which makes you constantly wonder whether she’s really experiencing paranormal phenomena or her mental decline has something to do with it. Ultimately, this film feels a bit like “The Babadook”.
This contrasts with the character Theo. Not that Wayman makes a mess out of it. I think the script wasn’t that great and he tried to make the best out of it. Theo is an attentive guy who’s extremely concerned about his pregnant girlfriend. And although Rose reacts irritated, he tries to make her feel as comfortable as possible. On the other hand he’s like a pubescent teenager who can’t wait to experience his first sexual contact. Every other minute he tries to seduce his girlfriend to play around a bit (he even gives her some sexy lingerie). After the umpteenth rejection, however, he runs of like a sulky teenager. Not so thoughtful and understanding suddenly. But his thoughtfulness, started to annoy me when Theo asked that same question again. “Are you alright?”. Instead of waiting for the constantly recurring answer that Rose gave (“I’m just tired”), I had the urge to shout it out loud as well. I was sick and tired of that bloody stupid question.
Not exactly a success story, this British horror experiment. It fails in terms of genre-picking. Is it a horror? Or is it just another psychological thriller? If you look at the poster, you expect a demonic baby to pop out of that swollen belly. Just like in “Alien”. Right ? But sorry. No baby. No demon. The best thing you do is to get a bottle of authentic Scottish Whisky, put on some bagpipe music as accompanying background music while putting on a matching kilt. At least you’re in the proper mood. Don’t expect the movie to do that for you!