“Baby Blood” is not a run-of-the-mill low budget flick. In fact, at the Avoriaz Film Festival, it was the only movie to ever be given a Jury Award without even being in the competition. So, what on Earth is a movie that won an actual award doing on Cinemartyr? Apparently, my editor Zeke informs me, it is an “art film.” Only the magic of these two words can land a Cinemartyr-reviewed movie an actual award. I really still don't understand the branding of various films with this stupid pedantic label. In any case, “art films” frequently differ from other films in two ways: 1) they're focused more on emotion and mood than concrete storylines and 2) they're really fucking difficult and irritating to review. [Rant over.]
This movie follows Yanka (Emmanuelle Escourrou), a pregnant woman trapped in an abusive relationship with the head honcho of a shady African circus. The circus gets a new shipment of animals and little do they know that one of the leopards is carrying an aggressive parasite. Long story short, Yanka is soon “infected” with said parasite. This parasite is actually an ancient creature that's been waiting for millions of years to manifest on Earth and take over. In an especially creepy scene, akin to the tree-raping scene in the original “Evil Dead,” the thing slithers in tapeworm form across the ground before reaching Yanka's trailer. It makes its way into the trailer, into Yanka's bedroom, and proceeds to take over the brain of her fetus. The demon can then speak directly to Yanka's brain (as a voice in her head.)
It's essential that I give this thing a name, despite the fact that Yanka doesn't ever actually do so. On IMDb, the demon is dubbed “Roger Placenta.” The first 20 minutes of this movie are devoted to background and story. Since this is a mood piece, however, that background doesn't establish much and may as well be treated as filler. Without it though, we wouldn't get Roger and wouldn't be able to focus on the most important part of the movie: the relationship between Yanka and demon fetus.
|Yanka shortly before committing her|
first murder. Escourrou is excellent
in this role.
Initially, Yanka isn't thrilled to have a second voice in her head at the cost of her own child. Roger isn't the most pleasant individual to work with since he needs blood sacrifices to grow. Eventually, the demon destroys Yanka's willpower and she mentally surrenders to him. This results in the movie's first murder scene. The poor girl is nearly on the edge of psychological collapse as she scopes the victim out. The absence of music heightens the dramatic tension as Roger simply states: “Slit his throat. Go on. Slit his throat. Take the knife. Take it, go over to him, and plunge it into his throat with all your strength.”
Roger's appetite is voracious, so we're treated to a large number of graphic and demented murder scenes. All the while, Yanka's sense of morality becomes clouded and the two form what could possibly be referred to as a 'friendship.' Even though the woman is concerned for Roger's cause, she is prone to outbursts of psychotic contempt for the demon placenta. These scenes are extremely well-handled, particularly one scene where Yanka attempts to drown herself only to wake up on land mere moments later. According to IMDb, Emmanuelle Escourrou was picked from a cast of over 80 women to play this part, and you can tell.
Between the several murder scenes and the bizarre rape/baby-possession scene, you may be thinking, “Wow, this sounds like a pretty well-done movie!” Unfortunately, “Baby Blood” is a little too eager to please its audience. It spends all of its time attempting to create dynamic scenes, many of which fall flat. A great example of this is a later scene where a blood-drenched Yanka runs into a local auto shop. “Are you the mechanic?!” she demands. Instead of responding like any average human being, the mechanic simply affirms and walks out to get to work. Meanwhile, everybody else in the shop ignores that she's obviously a psychotic mess soaked in blood the entire time.
“Baby Blood” spends all of its 86 minutes eagerly swinging for the fences. When it connects, it really connects. On the other hand, when it misses, it really misses. I mean, this movie features four uses of “X month later” cutaways in the first 45 minutes; can anybody say “error”?
Despite of all its flaws and inherent eagerness, “Baby Blood” is worth watching just for Yanka and Roger. You could easily write a psychology essay on the dynamics of this relationship. I was astounded by how much this otherwise mediocre movie challenged my own moral compass. (In a scene where Roger fatalistically and flatly tells Yanka that he is going to be taking over humanity in 5 billion years, the two laugh together about it. Strangely, I couldn't help but laugh along with them.) This movie's all about the good stuff and the bad stuff. As your reviewer, I am decisively telling you that the good stuff outweighs the bad stuff in spades. Check this out.