I was grossly unfamiliar with Ted Post’s film, The Baby. I remember seeing a poster for it years ago and assuming it was about an actual infant on a killing spree. After viewing this sinister tale of four women revolving around a thirty-something year-old man-baby literally named “Baby”, I only wish it was about the former. We first learn about Baby (David Mooney) when keen-eyed social worker, Ann Gentry (Anjanette Comer) sets her helpful gaze on Baby’s case files. Upon visiting the home of Baby, she finds three unusual women, including the mother, Mrs. Wadsworth (Ruth Roman), and two sisters, Alba and Germaine (Susanne Zenor, Marianna Hill) that have seem to have a bizarre family hierarchy. They are, after all, reposed to caring for an adult man with the mental capacity of a baby.
You might think this isn’t that weird, but I haven’t mentioned they keep Baby in adult-sized baby clothes, a giant crib, diapers, and even hand-wash the “kid’s” baby junk. Gentry knows Baby isn’t receiving the treatment he needs on a clinical level, and something far worse might be going on in their inner sanctum. Gentry gains the judging eye of the family almost immediately. Despite the revolving door of social workers assigned to Baby’s case over the years, Gentry is the first one to challenge Baby’s accepted mental diagnoses. Her constant pushing eventually moves the family to take action and it’s here that things get dark.
The film has a shocking twist, one I won’t ruin despite the film being 41 years old. As much as I like a perceived good guy in horror films, the family steals the spotlight. David Mooney is the focal point of the film’s bothersome subject. His physical presentation of a child is both accurate and somehow chilling. Sound effects of real crying and cooing babies are used in place of Mooney’s voice and it adds such a frightening layer to the film. The entire 85 minutes of The Baby felt uneasy to me, if not something far worse. The plot is unsettling, but waiting for the rub was even worse. A film like this has to have a punch-you-in-the-gut climax to be truly effective; I think you will be pleased if you can make it to the end,
The Baby is a fantastic example of old school film making. Every word, every frame is carefully crafted and executed for maximum horror. Director, Ted Post, captures the abusive theme taking place around the man-baby, something that just sits in my stomach like eating dread itself. I urge you to give this a shot; it’s a film you’ll be thinking about for longer than you would like.