February 26, 2018 The Lullaby (Movie Review)
When small-town history has haunting secrets that set their eyes on your newborn, you will wish you never brought your baby home! The brand-new Horror offering The Lullaby arrives to select U.S. theaters and On Demand as of Friday, March 2, 2018, thanks to Uncork’d Entertainment.
After a fight, nineteen-year-old Chloe (Reine Swart: Dominion series, Z Nation 2017) leaves her Eden Rock, South African home, only to return nine months later to give birth to her son. Almost as soon as Liam is born, she sinks into a deep depression. Thankfully, her mother Ruby (Thandi Puren: Dead Easy 2004, In Light of Is short 2015) is at her side, quick to help care for little Liam, and keep a watchful eye on her ailing daughter.
As Chloe struggles to adapt to the sleep-deprivation and emotional rigors of brand-new motherhood, her condition quickly devolves further. She begins to see a woman in a kind of Puritan black garb lurking around the home and near her child, she hears noises coming from the baby monitor, the TV turns itself on, closet doors open themselves, and doors mysteriously lock themselves. All of this is accompanied by a paranoia and sense of unease that she may, ultimately, attempt to harm her baby.
Believing that her daughter is suffering from Postpartum Depression and possible psychosis, Ruby, along with Chloe’s old flame Adam (Deànré Reiners: Seun: 81457397BG 2014, Mignon Mossie van Wyk 2016), enlist the help of Ruby’s friend Dr. Reed (Brandon Auret: District 9 2009, Elysium 2013) to get to the bottom of Chloe’s condition. Of course, in life, no answers are ever simple. Ultimately, those that love this young woman will have to decide if she is suffering from a mere case of the ‘baby blues’ or is there something much more sinister attempting to make history of Chloe and precious little Liam?
Clocking in at 86 minutes in-length, The Lullaby is a South African film that was originally entitled Siembamba, and was shot in and around Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Kaapschehoop. The film was directed by Darrell Roodt (Dangerous Ground 1997, Dracula 3000 2004) and written by Tarryn-Tanille Prinsloo (Trouvoete 2015, Skorokoro 2016). It is important to note that the film’s original title, Siembamba, is an African lullaby and lends much weight throughout the script that is, sadly, lost for many American audiences.
The Lullaby is billed as a Horror offering though, in truth, it is a blend of Horror (along the lines of other recent pregnancy-themed Horror flicks such as 2018’s Still/Born and 2017’s The Unseen) and Drama, especially that of the psychological sort. Chloe’s condition is deeply rooted in Postpartum Depression/Psychosis with elements of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), though there are clear elements of Horror (possessed dolls, bloody visual hallucinations) throughout the film, as well. The end result is a film with several truly cringe-worthy moments that is oft creepy and entirely haunting, it is also tragically emotional in its conclusion.
The ensemble cast here is small – with just four actors of note – and the bulk of the weight of the production rests on Swart’s shoulders in her role as the conflicted Chloe. Swart does a good job of portraying the myriad of emotions inherent in being both a new mother, and someone struggling with horrifying delusions and a troubled past. She never makes the story seem overreaching or ridiculous, instead lending a sincere authenticity to her performance that boosts the overall quality of the film. Puren, Auret, and Reiners are equally impressive, lending solid supporting performances in their individual roles.
The Lullaby offers a certain attention to artistic detail that creates creepy visual quirks, setting a haunting and macabre mood throughout. The story here is a darkly emotional tale of a young woman struggling with her newfound motherhood, haunted by a woman in black; and while this is hardly a unique plot, the cast and crew of The Lullaby do their script justice and create a film that is enjoyable to watch, if a bit heavy in subject matter. Ultimately, this all creates a film that sits perfectly among its pregnancy/newborn-themed Horror contemporaries, offering up a selection that does its production proud and creates an enjoyable viewing experience. For these reasons, CrypticRock give The Lullaby 4 of 5 stars.