August 27, 2008

DVD Review: Baby Blues

"The following is based on actual events."

With those fateful words we are launched into a harrowing tale of a mother's love for her children twisted upon itself in an ugly, disturbing way. That's right, this movie is the story of a mother whose unbalanced mental state tips too far the wrong way and she begins to exact her version of love upon her children.

No, this is not a cheery film. The title Baby Blues is no reference to the blues of the busy work surrounding children, it is nothing like Parenthood or Cheaper by the Dozen, and it is decidedly not based on the moderately humorous comic strip, Baby Blues, by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott. This is a mean film that is, at times, a little difficult to watch. Now, it may lean a bit towards the exploitative side of the coin, but it still packs a wallop, mostly due to the surprisingly strong performances.

Whether or not this nasty little number is actually based on real events or not, I don't know. If it did happen, I cannot express how bad I feel for those affected. That said, Baby Blues writer Lars E. Jacobsen likely did get his inspiration from an actual event, using it as a launching point to dive into the demons within to expunge the tragic events that unfold.

All right, enough of this beating around the bush, just what is Baby Blues?

Baby Blues is the tale of a mother of four, known simply as Mom (Colleen Porch), who is suffering from severe postpartum depression whose lack of support from her absentee husband allows her mood swings push her over the edge and into the abyss. Unable (unwilling? it is not explored here) to get the treatment she deserves, she is a quivering mess, prone to uncontrollable sobs and violent outbursts.

Her husband, the similarly anonymous Dad (Joel Bryant), is a truck driver. He is not a bad guy, he is not a drunk, he doesn't beat his wife, no, none of that. His biggest sin is that he is not home. Dad just is not around to see the state that has befallen his wife. Thus, he spends much of this film away from the action.

The person to first notice the changes? Little Jimmy the eldest of the four children. He approaches Dad, telling him that Mom has been really sad lately; news that he does not take the time to hear. What follows is Mom's descent into madness as she turns her growing malevolent thoughts on her children. Jimmy has to stand up and defend his siblings, protect them from the monster that their mother has become.

There is nothing particularly original here. At its core it is essentially a slasher film, with Mom standing in for the usual masked menace and children in the place of teens and twenty-somethings. It is this change that adds to the unsettling atmosphere of the film. There is something about children in peril that really digs into one's soul.

What helps set Baby Blues apart from the other low-budget indies on the shelf are the performances. In particular Colleen Porch, as Mom, delivers a chilling portrayal of pure evil. Sure, she is saddled with some bad dialogue, but with those lines out of the way, her look is just terrifying. She is not the only standout, there is also Ridge Canipe as Jimmy. He really steps up to the plate and just sucks you in as he flees his mother and tries to protect his siblings.

Lars E. Jacobsen and Amardeep Kaleka co-direct this feature, proving that you do not need a big budget to create a tense thriller. This is the first credit for both, and they do a fine job of keeping the film tight and focused. Sure, we could have gotten a bit more background, but in the end, this is about the aftermath of that fateful fall into the abyss. It will be interesting to see future projects that they work on.

Audio/Video. The DVD I have is a screener copy and is not necessarily representative of the final production version. That said, the disk looks and sounds good. You can clearly see its low budget roots, but it is sharp, crisp. and sounds good. Nothing to complain about, and I suspect the production release will look at least as good.

Extras. This is the area where this release is lacking. The only extra on the disk is the original trailer. A featurette or commentary would have been nice.

Bottomline. This is definitely worth spending some time with. It has good atmosphere, strong performances, and is tightly focused into a mere 76 minutes. I was not sure what to expect when I pressed play, but I am glad that I did.



Post a Comment