Baby Blues is a film that may shock some and offend others. It is not an easy watch, but not for the reasons that typically make Slasher films difficult. In fact, Baby Blues is not a typical Slasher—some might not even consider it a Slasher at all. It deals with complex topics and themes that are sure to make viewers uncomfortable, but it does so without resorting to vapid simplification or gross sensationalism.
Jimmy, about ten or eleven, is the eldest of four children, with the youngest sibling still an infant. Jimmy notices that his mother seems sad and is acting a little odd. His father, a truck driver, returns after days away, but makes it clear that he’ll be taking off again soon. The father appears to come home only long enough to get his wife pregnant before taking off again. Though not a bad guy (he genuinely seems to love his wife and kids), the father is clueless, noticing but not acknowledging that his wife is unwell.
Once her husband has gone again, leaving her alone with four kids, the mother’s accelerating decent into madness achieves terminal velocity and Jimmy, in an attempt to save his siblings and himself, is forced to run from one of the most terrifying yet heartbreaking Slashers in cinema history.
The film is loosely based on the Andrea Yates case, in which Yates drowned her five children in a bathtub. Baby Blues takes things a tad further, certainly, but never deviates from the issues that tie it to its real-life source. The mother in Baby Blues is terrifying, but she is not evil. It is made abundantly clear from the outset that she is not well, that post-partum depression is aggravating a pre-existing condition and not the source of the violence itself. The film never succumbs to a misogynistic or simplistic interpretation of post-partum depression/psychosis, never vilifies or marginalizes the condition.
Instead, Baby Blues comes through as a warning, a call to take the condition—to take all mental health issues—more seriously, to let the angel out of the kitchen so as to ensure she doesn’t end up a madwoman in the attic.
Baby Blues is expertly crafted, with beautiful photography and surprisingly powerful performances, especially from Colleen Porch as the mother, and Ridge Canipe as Jimmy. Tension is built slowly at first as the mother’s ongoing mental breakdown is only hinted at, but, as the film progresses, her difficulties become heart-wrenchingly obvious. The first signs of violence are shocking and will be difficult to watch for many—especially the parents of young children—but it is never graphic, never gratuitous; the filmmakers knew that the idea of violence alone, in this context, was more than enough to create the intended effect.
Baby Blues is not for everyone, but I recommend it to all lovers of solid suspense and smart horror, to those who wish to be challenged without having to deal with torture or gore, to those who want a little something different from a Slasher film.
Length: 85 min