DEMON BABY

3 out of 10

Release date: 2nd June 2015 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Coz Greenop

Cast: Carina Birrell, David Wayman, Cameron Jack with Lee Harris and Bhasker Patel

Writer: Coz Greenop

Trailer: DEMON BABY

demon-baby

Demon Baby is an unusual horror as it seems to duck the central issue by not presenting us with anything chilling, demonic or ghostly. Demon Baby is a baby film though in that it’s scale is that of a postage stamp. It’s short, has a small cast and will slip from the memory as soon as you’ve gone to bed for the evening.

You’ll see worse films but to see a film that’s almost a ghost itself is something else, so vapour like is everything about it. The actors are fine but don’t seem to do anything to make you pay all that much attention. If I was being cruel, you may even think the TV has switched itself off in a bid to entertain itself. As it is, here’s the plot. A young couple hire a mobile home and dash off to Scotland. The girl (CARINA BIRRELL – JACK SAID) is suffering from visions of a ghostly lady and this weirds her vaguely creepy boyfriend out, played with steady footing by David Wayman (VENGEANCE). He may not be creepy though because he just wants to have lots of sex and she’s seemingly up for it, then not up for it, which gets him cross. A weird policeman (CAMERON JACK – DEATH RACE 4) begins to bother them, but he’s just a normal copper in there for triangulation purposes. A phone rings and gets ignored. Could this issue be the source of the mystery? It solves some of it, but it’s much like the rest of the film, a giant non-sequiteur designed like a ghost story but it’s too polite to conjure any real doom and gloom. OR did the production run out of money and they finished it by bringing in Bhasker Patel (WILD WEST) as a doctor to read a bunch of belated exposition to the watchers? Who knows? You’ll forget you’ve seen it anyway before trying to solve what went on.

3 out of 10 – A non-ghostly ghost story with fair acting and an elusiveness that can’t be accidental. Vapid.

Read another review below, by Matt Usher

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

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One thought on “DEMON BABY

  1. REVIEW by MATT USHER

    Ignore, if you can, the title. And the DVD cover. And the alternative title (LITTLE DEVIL). And even the title the film-makers used when they were making it (WANDERING ROSE). If you can do that, and if you know beforehand that the demon baby stuff is irrelevant then you might be able to find something to enjoy in this badly-titled, under-plotted, mostly well-acted and occasionally surprisingly atmospheric and even sometimes creepy film.

    To be clear, there is no demon baby in this film (it’s about a pregnant woman in ghostly peril). If you truly want to watch a bad low-budget British film about a satanic toddler then I suggest the Joan Collins Donald Pleasance Eileen Atkins Ralph Bates non-classic I DON’T WANT TO BE BORN (in which a spurned circus dwarf curses ex-stripper Collins to give birth to a devil-possessed nun-slaughtering infant).

    Meanwhile the film now known as DEMON BABY is actually quite good if you (a) go into it thinking it’s going to be abysmal, (b) are feeling charitable, (c) can forget about the hugely misleading title and everything it suggests (apparently the title has nothing to do with the film-makers and is the work of the distribution company), and (d) accept that the plot doesn’t make sense. This is one of those films where the cast outnumber the behind the scenes team (and probably the audience as well), and there’s only about eight people on-screen anyway (including extras). It looks like a project which would regard a shoestring budget as a luxury. Given those constraints, this is unexpectedly good, though anyone paying more than 99p might not see it that way.

    So, those caveats aside, what is the film about if not a demon baby? Rose and Theo are a young couple who pop off to the Scottish highlands for a weekend. She’s recently pregnant and he’s an annoying berk. Things get off to a rocky start when they almost run over someone who isn’t there (because it’s some sort of ghost). Then, deciding that hell is other people (and because it’s cheaper) Theo decides they won’t bother staying on a camping site, and instead parks up in a municipal car park (admittedly one with some very nice views), which annoys the local copper, who’s the sort of semi-sinister busybody who makes house calls at two in the morning.

    Their holiday continues reasonably uneventfully, give or take the nosy noisy policeman, and ghostly bumps in the night. But all is not well, secrets and lies are doing their usual thing, and there’s a ghost haunting Rose. Things go from OK to bad to worse, with ghastly ghostly goings-on, an unfortunate incident in a shower-block, an even more unfortunate incident in a hospital, and an eerie event in a bothy. It all ends in tears, but we knew that from the start because the film uses that unnecessary flashback framing device which throws a lot of dramatic tension out of the window (we know from the start that Rose is being treated for some sort of massive mental trauma) for the sake of momentary shock value (if that), and it gives a not-very-good actor a chance to play a doctor, thus boosting the size of the speaking cast by 25%. The return to this scene at the end adds even less to the film.

    There’s a massive plot hole (someone seems to either forget something quite incredibly important, or else has suffered a catastrophe that causes that forgetfulness, but we don’t see any decent explanation for that happening). There’s no real connection between the ghost and our protagonists. I’m perfectly happy for films to be mysterious and ambiguous, but this is just shoddy, unless I missed some really important clues. The ghost puts in a few appearances and it’s neither brilliantly realised nor terrible – your reaction to it will probably be governed by what you think of the rest of the film.

    It’s fair to say there’s a lot wrong with this film. But it has some significant saving graces. For a start, it doesn’t resort to found-footage techniques, for which I’m profoundly grateful. More importantly, Carina Birrell is excellent and gives a performance that would look good in a proper film; she carries the film and manages to paper over the plot holes through the force of her acting. (Back-handed but sincere compliment coming up:) It’s one of the best performances I’ve seen in a no-budget under-written British independent horror / ghost film in the 2010s (honestly, it’s a bigger category than it sounds). David Wayman as the dim Theo is a little one-note. The policeman overplays the mysterious weirdo aspect of his character early on, but improves later. And there’s a cameo from Bhasker Patel as a flashback doctor (not to be confused with the not very good actor playing a doctor in the framing scenes from which the rest of the film is a flashback – I hope that’s clear). But it’s easily Birrell’s film.

    The other point in the film’s favour is the location. There’s some excellent location filming (and thankfully nothing set in a disused youth hostel), which heightens the mood. There are also some genuinely good eerie moments, and the build-up to the shocks (both real shocks and cat scares) are surprisingly effective.

    This is a creditable calling-card film (notice that I refuse to use any of the film’s ludicrous titles), and considerably better than a lot of dross that can be found in the pound shops. There are lots of rough edges, and it’s definitely not to be watched by anyone looking for a straightforward entertaining film. But if, say, you’re locked into an unending project where you’re examining the modern day bargain basement, then it makes an agreeable departure from tripe like DON’T LET HIM IN, VAMPIRES, CRYPTIC, CHERRY TREE and a hundred others. There’s some imagination at work here, and some good stuff both sides of the camera, but in the end it’s hobbled by a story which makes no sense.

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