Thursday, April 3, 2008

Baby Blood (a.k.a. The Evil Within)

I saw part of this movie many years ago on HBO, under the superior title The Evil Within. As I was in high school then, the film appealed to me largely on the basis of the lead actress, Emmanuelle Escourrou, getting naked quite frequently toward the beginning of the film. Of course, I am now a much more, refined, deeply cultured individual, and so I expect a great deal more from my horror movies than mere exposed breasts, or women being impregnated by snake things. Fortunately (and surprisingly, given what I’ve seen of most French attempts at horror movies), this movie manages to bring the goods elsewhere as well.

The film opens with a voice over explaining the beginning of life on Earth, before revealing that the narrator himself was one of those initial forms of life, only he is still waiting to be born. We then cut to Africa, where a leopard has just been captured for a French circus, just in time to cut to the circus itself, which seems to be run by a vicious animal trainer. His abused girlfriend/wife/whatever is chosen by the primordial creature, who is clearly living inside of the new leopard, to be his vessel to incubate and birth him, so that he may eventually replace humanity. He impregnates her with himself (as mentioned earlier), and most of the rest of the film follows them on the run, with them communicating semi-telepathically, and her needing to continually drink blood to feed her unholy spawn.

As premises go, it’s a fairly unique idea for a movie, and it’s fairly well made too. It’s mostly dubbed, and yet is surprisingly non-terrible (some scenes were cut from the original American release, and so were never dubbed over), a bit of a rarity among any genre, but especially noteworthy given how atrocious the dubbing of the French film High Tension is. The directing is also good, managing to successfully interweave a largely low-key, realistic look with scenes that go overwhelmingly over the top. Of course, there’s also the delightfulness of those over-the-top scenes; I must say, there are few things that can get me hotter than seeing a sexy naked woman take a knife and stab a man to death while screaming her lungs out. There’s also, as there would have to be with a premise like this, pure spun gold when the baby is eventually born, and the film does not have any kind of copout here that one might come to expect from an American horror movie.

Those of you out there looking for a standard horror film will probably want to avoid this. It’s pretty openly weird, and while it does have a nice body count and an ample showering of blood, it’s probably not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. However, if you’re in the market for something a little different, a little off the beaten path, a little less Starbucks and a little more Sardo’s Persian Blend, then you may just want to give this one a gander. If nothing else, I can guarantee it’s better than buying most of the new After Dark Horrorfest movies, and I say this from the authoritative position of someone that’s not seen a one of the new batch.

Rating: *** ½

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