The doula from hell guides a struggling couple through a deeply unusual pregnancy in writer/director Reed Shusterman’s unhinged little horror flick Blood Born. So just how far will a desperate, purportedly barren woman go to experience the miracle of childbirth? According to the filmmaker, all the way down into the pits of hell. The result is a surprisingly balanced dish of silly, over-the-top, gory fun, with a sprinkling of serious thematic elements.
Makayla (Rosie Moss) and Eric (Antoine Perry) are a young couple struggling to conceive. They think they’ve tried it all until they meet Ola (Melanie Haynes), a doula from the mysterious Gravida Foundation. When the couple witnesses Ola hatch an egg with the help of magic – “It’s your egg, so it’s your chick, unless you don’t want it?” – they promptly sign up. What’s the worst that could happen?
As it turns out, a bunch of terrible s**t can happen when you sign your life off to a dark sect without any research or consideration. Ola presents them with a list of increasingly crazed rituals. “If you cheat and don’t tell me,” she states enigmatically, “anything unexpected can be a disaster.” They are asked to kneel. Their grown chicken is murdered in cold blood. A crazed Dr. Z (Cole Gerdes) comes in to take a look-see and steals a vial of Makayla’s blood. They wear hooded cloaks and then screw each other while Ola chants and runs around them in circles. “You did well,” the doula tells them after. “I hope it worked. We’ll know for sure in the morning.”
“…how far will a desperate, purportedly barren woman go to experience the miracle of childbirth?”
It did work. Makayla’s pregnant – but there’s a caveat. It’ll only take a week for the baby to be born. While Eric balks at this news, Makayla barely flinches: “How is this a bad thing?” Suffice to say, it’s terrible. The young woman’s stomach stretches so hard it rips open. She develops a voracious appetite. Eric starts to freak out. What are they giving birth to? It all comes down to an ending so ridiculous it has to be seen to be believed. Put it this way: Shusterman certainly put his heart into it.
The two leads go a long way in grounding the proceedings with their relatable performances. Makayla and Eric might be two of the most gullible suckers on the planet, but their trauma at least partially justifies their willingness to partake in all of this absurdity. Blood Born takes a serious stab at examining the painful reality of infertility, and the story functions as a veiled parable about organized sects; the parallels between the Foundation and, say, Scientology are undeniable. Also, the whole “all babies are monsters” theme is a bit too on-the-nose and best left unexplored.
By the time a mentally scarred woman runs out of a nursery with bleeding nipples (“Are you f*****g kidding me? Are we having a vampire baby?”), your disbelief will either be suspended or fully intact – either way – there’s much enjoyment to be had here. The “blood-in-baby-bottle” poster brings to mind another tale of satanic motherhood, Grace, although it’s a slightly different take on the genre. Stilted dialogue, budget restraints, cheap special effects all come with the territory. The berserk Blood Born is better than its appearance and tagline suggest.
"…a serious stab at examining the painful reality of infertility..."