SEPTEMBER 6, 2012
Few things annoy me more than movies that seem unwilling to kill its characters, and if you share the sentiment, then you should probably avoid Baby Shower, in which it seems the entire second act revolves around people coming back to attack someone after they had apparently been dispatched (and then that person will come back to knock out someone else). It completely sucks all the tension out of the film, because it just seems like everyone has Wolverine-style regenerative powers - KILL SOMEONE! Let me know that there are actual stakes here!
And it's a shame, because the first half starts off pretty tense and unique, as the movie concerns a very pregnant woman who has assembled her friends for a shower, not waiting long to reveal her true motive: finding out which one of them has been sleeping with her husband. But then the studly housekeeper is attacked, and it seems like we have a Twitch Of The Death Nerve type thing going on. So far so good, right?
But then we also meet a strange group of hippie types who have been assisting Angela with her pregnancy, and the movie switches to focus on them. It seems the housekeeper guy is part of the group, and he was merely being knocked out as punishment for banging one of the friends (it's against their beliefs of being pure and all that horseshit). Then another cult person shows up, and another, and everyone seems to hate each other, and blah blah blah - the movie basically devolves into a series of scenes in which someone suddenly lashes out against a person that they thought was their ally, like 9 seasons of 24 twists compressed into a 50 minute section of a horror film.
This sort of thing can work (Rabies did something similar, and we can even keep the Death Nerve comparison alive), but those movies had the surprise factor working for them, steadily escalating and pulling the rug out from under you. Not that case here; writer/director Pablo Illanes just keeps returning to the "but they're not really dead yet!" trick, and the original mystery of who was sleeping with the husband has a shrug of a reveal (not that any answer would matter, because we never meet the husband until late in the film anyway). Sorry, but The Descent has already had the greatest "Find out your best friend is banging your husband" subplot in horror history (and perfect execution of how it plays out in the larger picture), so when you're screwing everything else up in your female driven horror film, the director might as well just turn to the camera and tell you to go watch that instead.
It doesn't help that everyone's kind of annoying. Angela has a reason - she's about to give birth (to twins), she isn't feeling well, and her friends/husband have betrayed her. But the friends are largely terrible people: an egotistic cougar, a meddlesome worrywart, and an instigating "tough broad" type (who turns out to be the one banging the husband), plus a whiny assistant to one of them who just tags along for the ride (and gives Illanes someone to kill relatively early, though she puts up a fight too). And the villains just come off as cartoonish, spouting their babble about "Universal Truth" or whatever the hell. The movie gets back on track near the end, when Angela finally takes a stance (she spends the bulk of the movie just kind of hanging out as the cult and her friends battle - if we're supposed to wonder whose side she's on it doesn't quite work), but it's too little too late - the movie had completely lost me by then.
Luckily, it's a foreign horror film, so it has a decent chance of being remade, thus giving them an opportunity to fix it. Balance the two subplots properly, make the characters more interesting, and have at least one villain come off as competent, and this could work as a gruesome, slightly dark comic thriller. As it stands, it's merely serviceable; yet another film that can't stick the landing and leaves you having trouble remembering what you liked about it initially.
What say you?