The Lullaby

A young single mother begins a descent into madness as visions haunt her and endanger her newborn.

The Lullaby is a movie made up of disparate, but effective moments of cringe-worthy scenes filled with gore and the occasional story point. It’s not a bad film as it works in short bursts and maintains momentum, yet nearly everything in it feels like a pastiche of plotlines.

The film opens on what is made to look like archival footage of some, non-descript, puritanical clatch of maniacs in the woods. A restrained mother screams and cries as her wailing infant is held atop a crag, ala The Lion King. A priest or some kind of holy leader decrees that the baby is filled with a demon and must be killed. Personally, as an opponent of screaming children, I am in full agreement with that statement, minus the killing part. But a creepy woman in head-to-toe black clothing, who up to this point has stood beside the man on the cliff, comes to life, snaps the baby’s neck, and tosses it off the cliff. Great opening, but where do you go from there?

“…scene after scene of poor Chloe suffering delusions as her baby lay screaming in the next room.”

We cut to modern-day where Chloe (Reine Swart), in the throes of childbirth. After her newborn arrives she is despondent and clearly suffering from the onset of postpartum depression. The girl ain’t well.  Single and with child, she returns home to her mother’s house, a mere few miles from where the legendary baby killer lady apparently pitched a pram from a peak. Okay, so you think you know where this is going? That’s good because writer Tarryn-Tanille Prinsloo seems content in entertaining you rather than building a clarified storyline.

Teamed with director Darrell Roodt, Prinsloo’s script delivers scene after scene of poor Chloe suffering delusions as her baby lay screaming in the next room. The baby pitcher from the days of yore keeps appearing here and there, inducing what may or may not be some pretty grisly actions toward Chloe’s newborn. (sidenote: The infant used in this film is one of the cutest in recent memory which works to heighten the anxiety when the little guy is in peril)

The story rolls along with Chloe’s long-suffering mother Ruby (Thandi Puren) repeatedly discovering her daughter in frightening situations with her grandson. Ruby takes her daughter to creepy-as-hell psychiatrist Dr. Timothy Reed (Brandon Auret, channeling actor Oliver Reed) who only passively suggests that there may be an issue. Could he have an agenda of his own? Who the hell knows?

“…cringe-worthy scenes filled with gore and the occasional story point.”

As the film comes to a close, there really aren’t any direct answers and we are left with the memory of a few nasty scenes involving child endangerment. There are worse films to be sure, and the production values are totally satisfactory here. Yet for all the wonderful work on build up and visions and hallucinations, we would expect a bt more from this movie that plays on maternal paranoia and the fears associated with breaking from the past.

I was entertained with The Lullaby, no question. I just think that the storyline could have used more polish. Even if things were left a little vague for us, the viewer, it would have been nice to know there was a plot hidden somewhere in there.

The Lullaby (2018) Directed by Darrell Roodt. Written by  Tarryn-Tanille Prinsloo. Starring Reine Swart, Brandon Auret, and Thandi Puren.

The Lullaby is worth VOD (**).

Norm’s Rating System: Full Price (****), Matinee (***), VOD (**), Don’t Bother (*)

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