Starring: Colleen Porch, Ridge Canipe, Joel Bryant, Kali Majors, Holden Thomas Maynard
Directed By: Lars E. Jacobson, Amardeep Kalaca
Written By: Lars E. Jacobson
Baby Blues is a film based on depression, a broken home life, and a severe case of mother abandonment. It turns a seemingly innocent small town family life in to a spiral of madness, putting the weak against the innocent. The tone is a very inconceivable and discomforting one to handle. Baby Blues tackles the subject of children having to fight against the one who is supposed to protect them unconditionally, their mother. It does this through brutality and extremely difficult situations, but it does so with such insight and compassion to the story and the condition of the characters involved.
Jimmy (Canipe) is essentially the man of the house with his father being gone so much. His mother (Porch) is suffering even more from the absence of her husband. With four children, including one new born, taking care of the house and the farm, and fighting the losing battle to keep her husband close to her she has little happiness in life. She fears that her husband might not be as faithful to her as he claims. The mother becomes haunted, hearing voices as her stability falls apart. She tries to get through each day as best as she can, but everything piles up and her postpartum depression causes her to break down. When her daughter, Cathy (Majors), complains that her brother, Sammy, spilled juice on her dress she snaps. From this moment on she is not the mother that any of her kids ever knew. She grabs Cathy and attacks her.
Jimmy stands up to his mother and tries to save his sister, but gets knocked unconscious in the process. He wakes up to his mother attempting to drown Cathy in the bathtub. Jimmy manages to get up and knock her out with a mirror. Just as Cathy starts waking up so does their mother. Jimmy sends his brother out for help as he attempts to get him and his sister as far away as possible. However, Sammy isn’t quite as strong and has trouble realizing that the mother he knew is not with them that night. She goes after him and demands that he comes back. Jimmy and Cathy are forced to stand there as they watch their mother murder their brother viciously merely with a pair of scissors. Even if he couldn’t save him, Jimmy is desperate to be able to save his sister and himself. They run as far as they can get and then hide inside the barn. Their mother comes after them. Her rampage continues all throughout the night stopping at nothing to viciously murder her children, continually arguing that they are the ones making her do this.
The acting is really incredible in the film. Colleen Porch really brings out the troubling mind and instability that is taking over her even before she attacks her children. She is a very broken down woman and makes an even larger disaster of her life. Porch gives us a completely terrifying woman, at times bringing this insane mind out and allows us to see it from the outside. She really nailed this role and made the film all the more chilling because of it. Ridge Canipe was the perfect opposition to the character she became. He was the symbol of innocence, yet one who refused to let himself be a victim. He showed such emotion and gave us a very smart and intensely brave kid. He showed more intelligence and strength than most adults would have in a similar situation. This was completely believable though since he was always set to higher standards and was forced to grow up and be the man of the house long before he should have.
Joel Bryant did pretty well as the father who was clearly oblivious to the fact that his family was falling apart. Even when Jimmy told him how upset his mother was, he didn’t want to hear it. He shows this gullibility not for a lack of intelligence, but because he knows he isn’t able to face the truth. He rests on this false hope that everything is going to be okay. Kali Majors and Holden Thomas Maynard do well as the terrified and very scared children who depend on their older brother to protect them from the women they thought would always be there for them.
Baby Blues gives you an intensely uncomfortable feeling watching it, which never goes away throughout the film. The last film that gave me a feeling like this was Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door, which reminded me of this in many ways especially with the parental figures abusing their power and children being in the most danger in their own home. The Girl Next Door is a film that is much more closely related to a true account, which Baby Blues does claim as well. Baby Blues is based on a true story, but not one story. It follows a very real turn of events and the victimization of children who are left defenseless. You hear about mothers murdering their children all too often, but it is quite another thing to witness this on screen. It is simply one tale of it, but it includes many universal themes that speak to these tragedies.
What I really appreciated about this is it wasn’t just done for shock factor. Every second of the film is shocking, but more importantly somehow through the cruel acts it manages to be so personal and compassionate. As horrible and monstrous the mother is I didn’t see her solely as a monster. I saw her struggle and the pain emerging throughout her. Being forced to question whether her husband really loves her and not being able to handle being the mother for his children alone is too much for her too take. It is very clear that her struggle has warped her mind to be something she doesn’t even really understand. There is no clear thinking, but she can’t help but act on her inner demons. Her misery has been held in for far too long and it all comes out at once. Once taking this route it is clear she can never go back. The film doesn’t spell this out for us either, but crafts this in to the actions and characters that carry the film.
When absent or not around much, the oldest son is usually placed with a lot of responsibility. Really in every aspect Jimmy hasn’t been able to have the lighthearted childhood that most kids do. He isn’t able to go out and play much because it is easier for his mom to have him home. Jimmy has to take care and look out for his brother and sisters, but even for most kids forced to be adults, this doesn’t usually include saving them from being murdered from their mother. He really takes charge of the situation, knows not to trust his mother again, and continues to be resourceful, never giving up or giving in. It goes beyond fearing death, but shows a destructible sense of betrayal from his mother. It is clear that if he gets out of this alive he won’t be the same as his mother psychologically wounds him even more than she physically does.
I have heard a number of complaints about the ending, which really astonishes me as I thought it fit perfectly. It follows the same motif that is a constant in the film that you are never safe from madness and danger, especially when given the illusion of safety. Anyone who hasn’t completely been shattered beyond repair will surely be destroyed with the conclusion we are given. What is asked is really hard to even swallow. It takes us to a place where hope proves to merely be poison. Baby Blues is a gripping and tragic film that is disturbing, brutal, and heartbreaking.