4 out of 10

Release Date: 7th October 2007 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Stephen W Parsons

Cast: Tiana Benjamin, Fenella Fielding, Ben Bailey Smith, Leona Ekembe with Claire Cox and Ann Faulkner

Writer: Stephen W Parsons


REVIEW by Joe Pesci II aka Matt Usher DOWN BELOW 


  • Tiana Benjamin: Fast Girls, Eastenders (TV)
  • Fenella Fielding: The All Together, Guest House Paradiso, Carry On Screaming, Carry On Regardless, Doctor In Love
  • Ben Bailey Smith: David Brent – Life On The Road, Level Up, Law and Order UK (TV)
  • Claire Cox: Spooks (TV), Shooting Fish, The Leading Man

One thought on “WISHBABY

  1. WISHBABY – review by Joe Pesci II aka Matt Ushbaby

    ‘Be careful what you wish for!’ is the message hammered home with all the subtlety of a hammer in this unexpectedly better than awful little no-budget independent film. I’m making no great claims for it, but it’s not the worst way to spend a spare hour and a quarter of your life. A wishbaby is a baby doll which grants your every evil wish. So, obviously this is a horror. But it is also social commentary (sort of) and a fable.

    Tiana Benjamin is a part-time schoolgirl who sees some boys beating up CARRY ON SCREAMING star Fenella Fielding. Benjamin helps see them off, and helps Fielding home. But what’s this in the old lady’s pram? It’s a scary / comedy blue doll. With evil powers! Before you know it the doll has started granting wishes and a mysterious spectral nanny is floating around like a malignant Mary Poppins and the bullies have been horribly killed in exceedingly odd circumstances. Benjamin is obviously taken with her new friend’s sinister power, and decides to build herself a wishbaby (cue shopping montage in south London market).

    But Benjamin hasn’t learned to control her power, silly girl, and soon she’s taking the law into her own hands and she and the devilish wishbaby have got rid of those pesky Russians upstairs. (But are we meant to be pleased that she’s killed several people just because they were a bit noisy? No-one likes noisy neighbours, particularly if they’re foreign gangsters who are doing lots of noisy sex with each other, but surely slaughtering them is a little extreme? Mind you, our heroine is already in a spot of bother with the authorities, so she probably doesn’t want to involve the Environmental Health people when she can deal with the problem in a much more satisfyingly final sort of way.)

    Then her mum turns up. And she’s a maniac as well (Ann Faulkner is very good here). And her brother is having a tough time as well. Everything’s set up for a resolution which doesn’t deliver: the film loses pace towards the end, but I like that they kept everything at a domestic level. WISHBABY is enthusiastically acted and nicely scripted for the most part. The stakes are kept low, but not too low. It’s a bit like an update of an M R James story or something like that. It’s a brave stab, with some good individual shots, a few eerie / weird scenes, and a willingness to attempt to be different.

    And yet, in the end it doesn’t really add up to much, there aren’t many surprises, and it all goes along predictably enough. And although there are some good creepy moments, it isn’t scary enough. Perhaps it might have worked most effectively in a TV format – as a thirty or sixty minute play in an anthology series (just because no-one makes them anymore is no excuse), it could have lost the padding, and also the expectation that being a feature film entails.

    I hope this is based on a true story. I suspect that’s unlikely what with the satanic doll and the ghostly governess from hell, but it would have been nice if they’d said it was based on a true story (even if it was a confounded lie). Perhaps I should explain. WISHBABY is a film which, although not particularly good (dismal at times), does two things very well: it has a sense of place, and it (for the most part) keeps its focus. The place in question is our old friend the high-rise flat (this time in London). And the film is at its strongest when dealing with the ordinary: run-ins with social workers, trouble-making gangs, school. It also does well when dealing with certain supernatural elements: the wishbaby itself, Fenella Fielding’s weird house. It goes off the rails when it strays into low-budget Britpic clichés (Russian gangsters and prostitutes). But overall, the feeling of reality is reasonably well maintained. Most of the acting is, if not particularly great, pretty natural (a huge relief after the horrors perpetrated by SIX BEND TRAP). The film also keeps (for the most part) a strong focus on its story; unlike the aforementioned SIX BEND TRAP, which is twice as long, it tells one story economically and with restraint.

    WISHBABY hasn’t given me any nightmares, but it’s a sincere attempt to make a restrained and moderately effective small-scale film. Perhaps it’s best to look at it in the spirit of a showreel rather than a finished object, but at least I got the feeling that everyone was trying to make a good film, rather than mess about or play to the characters or treat everything as some sort of ego-trip. There are better devil-doll films around (probably) but I’m glad they had a go.

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