There are bad movies that you watch and laugh off. Then there are bad movies that open up deep pits of Lovecraftian madness below you and provoke all manner of unsettling questions about what the hell you’ve been doing with your life. Fitting that my first official film as an Austin should be one of those.
Zack Carlson looked visibly apologetic as he introduced the movie. Describing it in his opening spiel as “Dandruffy” and I really can’t think of a better term. But enough beating around the bush. What is it exactly that makes The Baby such a terrible ordeal? How can I explain? This is a movie about an adult baby where the adult baby is not the worst of said movie. And the fact that there are things worse than an adult baby in the movie is also not the worst part of that movie.
But let’s back up half a step because that Adult Baby is pretty bad in and of itself.
The Baby as you’ve probably figured out is about the titular Baby, a man child kept that way not by sexual kink of developmental problems, by his family who act like people Rob Zombie kicked out the auditions for The Firefly Family for being too skeezy. It’s just as bad as it sounds. When a social worker takes an interest in the case and tries to reach said adult baby the family takes to this none too kindly, and all hell (or at least a great many things that you might see in hell) breaks loose. Full frontal nudity, abuse with a cattle prod, roofies and other delightful things to watch ensue (By the way did I mention that this movie was rated PG? Which as Carlson gleefully pointed out gives it the same rating as Shrek 2.)
“Has Bryce gone soft?” I hear you ask, “Sure that’s awful unpleasant but that sounds like standard grindhouse fair to me. And If you ain’t got the yarbles for exploitation cinema then you had best stay out of the kitchen.” (or go mix yourself a few more metaphors)
Granted but here’s the thing. The Baby isn’t really a grindhouse movie. That’s what makes it so soul crushing. Released by a major studio it was directed by Ted Post. The filmmaker behind some of the better second tier Clint Eastwood films and Beneath The Planet Of The Apes. This isn’t a case like Death Bed where low budget filmmaking was used in the service of the inexplicable, this is the studio machine in the service of the inexplicable.
And that makes it all infinitely worse.
Because that means that someone went up to a professional journeyman filmmaker like Ted Post and convinced him to make The Baby. Presumably after pitching their ways through the upper echelon of studio executives. People invested millions of dollars in the baby. Trailers were cut, a promotion campaign mounted to increase awareness for The Baby.
And man it is one thing to rationalize one’s failures, in the face of the absurd. It is quite another to realize that if someone can convince professional adults to make The Baby, then you have no excuse.