Sunday, September 18, 2011

You've Gotta See the BABY'S Room! (because it's haunted)

I can think of two good reasons why I’ll probably never be a homeowner. 1) I live in New York and will therefore be able to complete an Olympic rhythmic gymnastics routine before I could afford to buy property 

and 2) I’ve seen too many haunted house films.

See, a haunted apartment is escapable. Sure, you might lose some deposit cash, but at least you won’t be forced to choose between your hard-earned life savings and the offchance that your socially unacceptable supernatural suspicions are grounded in soul-stealing truths. 
Such life decisions bring us to today’s feature, The Baby’s Room, Alex de la Iglesia’s entry in Spain’s 6 Films To Keep You Awake. As my past reviews of A Real Friend and A Christmas Tale demonstrate, this collection is pretty tops. Toss in my recent viewing of Iglesia’s unique monster of a film The Last Circus and my expectations get pretty darn tall.

Quick Plot: Juan and Sonja have just moved into a mysteriously well-priced home in a well-to-do neighborhood. When they install a baby monitor to keep track of their sleeping toddler, Juan overhears a scrambled message coming through. Silly Juan. Don’t you know baby monitors are made for one reason and one reason only when used in a horror film, and ‘keeping track of your sleeping toddler’ sure ain’t one of them?
Did Insidious teach them nothing?!

Like any red-blooded Ameri-er, Spanish man, Juan immediately decides to upgrade his technology with the most expensive on the market. It also gives him a prime chance to flirt with the cashier and plant seeds of character unlikability. But hey, you HAVE to get the best, right?

Hence, Juan moves in a video monitor, only to discover that late at night, a black-clad figure is hovering over his child. Such events continue each night, much to the chagrin of his doubtful wife and frustrated boss who watches his ace reporter stink his way into the office past deadlines and without showers. 
Considering The Baby’s Room is only 79 minutes long, it feels wrong to say much more, especially as the turns aren’t overly surprising (it’s a haunted house film, for goodness sake) but still enjoyable in their execution. With a small cast, The Baby’s Room is an intimate film, one that spends virtually its entire running time on Javier Gutierrez’s Juan. It’s actually a relief to have it be the husband, rather than the typical weary mother, cast as the hysteric, and Guitierrez does a fine job keeping our interest (if not always our sympathies).

Much like the other films in this series, The Baby’s Room is also quite funny, with a neat sense of lightness as Juan grows more and more paranoid. It’s odd then to pinpoint exactly why and where it drags, but at a certain point, even 79 minutes felt long. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that the central mystery is never quite explained despite Juan’s intensive research. Pacing is mildly problematic, though the performances and dread carry it through.

High Points
Yes, there’s a baby in danger in a movie called The Baby’s Room, but while we do fear for the toddler’s safety, it’s actually quite amazing that the film’s most dramatic jump scare involves a minor parenting moment
No spoilers, but the final beat offers the perfect tone to end on
Low Points
We get that mirrors are shifty and stuff might happen that will make us jump. That being the case, we REALLY don’t need obvious sound effects to remind us.
Lessons Learned
In Spain, hide and seek involves seeing, not catching

Your first mistake in obtaining a haunted house: purchasing your home from a mall-stationed real estate agency and a man with a shiny ponytail
Old people are crazy (from the mouths of old babes)
If you’re really happy and content in your life, you should refrain from saying that out loud. The screenwriter might hear and decide to, you know, make you the star of a horror film

Stray Sexy Observation
As I noted recently with Aiden Gillen’s proclivity towards nude sex scenes, it feels right to point out that the lovely and versatile actress Leonor Watling  has spectacular breasts and I know this because a) I’m a woman and a fair judge and b) I’ve seen them in three different films thus far

Parents of the Year Award...
...does not go to the characters in this film. For proof, observe the first scene wherein they notice something funky coming through the baby monitor. Rather than immediately run to the baby’s room to investigate, the pair strain their ears until something definitely menacing comes through the airwaves. Oh, then they later SEE a figure in the room via video. And also consider their options know...GOING INTO THEIR BABY’S ROOM.

This is my third trip through Spain’s 6 Films To Keep You Awake series, and like A Real Friend and A Christmas Tale, The Baby’s Room delivers a funny, scary, and concise ride. The film is streaming on Netflix and is well worth a watch, though for $16, you can also just grab the whole set. It’s essentially Masters of Horror but good. And much cheaper. And good.


  1. To Let (also part of this series) is pretty good, too. It would have been better in Alex de la Iglesia's hands, but I'll take The Baby's Room as his entry.

  2. I'll definitely finish up the series soon. So far, it's batting 3 for 3!

  3. I myself live in a house and I have no worries about it being haunted. ...the hellmouth situated under my house however is another matter altogether though...*readies shotgun with chainsaw bayonet*
    And this film goes for only 79 minutes?! That sounds great, I love shorter films like that, they're quick, fun (usually) and to the point (although when watching a Jim Wynorski killer-robots-in-mall movie or Japanese Kaiju and giant robots movie, short is usually NOT what anyone would want!).

  4. What are your thoughts on the upcoming Hellraiser remake? And what are your thought on Pascal Laugier's being dumped from the project?

  5. I don't envy you that hellmouth. It can drive your real estate market down fir one, plus cause all sorts of plumbing problems down the line. Lots of luck with that!

    And as far s I know, all the films in the 6 films to keep you awake series are around or under 80 minutes. It's a gift from the gods!

  6. Anonymous: I'd been ridiculously pumped for a Laugier Hellraiser, but I think that the very day I learned if its existence was the same day I learned he was off the project, which is beyond disappointing. I think now it's in the my bloody valentine/drive angry team's hands? I like those guys well enough and am sure they'll deliver something entertaining, but I doubt we'll get anything especially innovative or disturbing.

  7. EndLess: I highly recommend checking out the whole 6 film collection. I think all are on Netflix instant watch if that's an option for you. If nothing else, try your darnest to track down The Christmas Tale. Very effective and fun little horror comedy with a primarily kid cast.

  8. Oh, don't even mention the plumbing. I've really gotta stop hiring plumbers named Joe.

  9. Wait...there are plumbers that are NOT named Joe?

  10. Looks good, The spaniards are pretty darn competent at the horror..

  11. Especially in the last ten years. The millennium has treated them well.

    What do you think of Santana and Brittany being lesbian lovers?

  13. Here's hoping that Scandinavia can get high on the horror film scene soon, everything else they make is fun enough (namely Storm, a movie that's described as 'the Swedish Matrix', a statement only true in the respect that, yes, Storm is a Swedish film).

  14. I've heard of Storm, but had no idea it was Scandanavian. I guess there's Troll Hunter now, which I haven't seen but has seemed to take off quite hugely here. And hey, you've got Lars Von Trier, who can *kind of* be considered a master horror filmmaker. And Cold Prey was NOrweigian, right? So I guess there is some decent stuff coming out from the north, just nothing (as of yet) overly revolutionary.

    Anonymous: It's a loaded question, since Glee's season 2 was such a mess that no storyline really survived unscathed. I'd still say though that their relationship--and all its complications--may actually remain the best handled storyline on the series thus far, especially since it still has a balance of being treated with humor and sensitively. I hope that lasts!

  15. I wish baby monitors would be employed more as creepy plot devices. Here's to hoping.

    Agreed with Jen. To Let was great. Buying the whole series is on my DVD buying shortlist.

  16. See my problem now us that as soon as I area baby monitor onscreen, I KNOW it will be used ominously. I'm still convinced it's the only reason Insidious even bothered to include a baby in the family!

    And I need to finish up the 6 Films Series. 3 for 3 so far!

  17. This is the only one I've seen so far. I'm a sucker for haunted house flicks. Meaning they actually are effective in startling and thrilling me all at once. I'm glad this one delivered considering it did drag near the end. The twist of it all wasn't too surprised, but a nice psychological layer.

  18. You HAVE to see The Christmas Tale. 80s nostalgia and great kid actors!

  19. Ooh, I have this set somewhere among my stuff. I must confess to being a borderline hoarder. Can't find anything these days and constantly bringing more junk in. I need to stop that, because I'm going to need another car sooner or later and I rather not have another 5 year payment plan.

    Anyway, back to the horror. I've only watched The Blame, which is pretty good but the construed message made me uneasy. But the acting is really good. The guy who directed Who Can Kill a Child--GREAT movie, BTW--is in charge of The Blame. Not a masterpiece, suspect message, but still good.

  20. I'm most excited to watch The Blame because I absolutely ADORED Who Can Kill a Child. HOpe I'm not disappointed, nothing in the series has let me down so far!

    Ahh hoarding, an incurable but rewarding syndrome that affects movie junkies like none other...

  21. "Late at night, a black-clad figure is hovering over his child." I got a shiver just reading that bit. And huzzah for spectacular breasts!

  22. I'm a straight woman myself, and I wholeheartedly appreciate spectacular breasts as well.