The premise of The Baby is enough to make you want to cover your eyes and run screaming for the hills. The baby, simply called Baby (David Manzy) is actually a full grown man, aged somewhere between twenty and thirty, who lives (in the manner of a baby) with his mother (Ruth Roman) and adult sisters Germaine (Marianna Hill) and Alba (Suzanne Zenor). He sleeps in a crib with his head scrunched against the headboard and his feet scrunched against the footboard, and he wears those fuzzy baby half-sweaters with ribbon at the neck. Oh, and bloomers! He wears bloomers and half-sweaters. And his cries are dubbed with those of a real infant, and he sucks his thumb, and he wants to breastfeed.
Oh, but Baby isn’t even the creepy part of The Baby. He’s fine! He’s literally a big, overgrown, harmless baby, and he doesn’t know there’s any thing wrong with trying to nurse from the babysitter. It’s the people around Baby who should have you worried.
Handily, Baby’s family receives a check from social services each month to help pay for his support. Certainly no one would deliberately infantilize their child for his entire life for the sole purpose of living off his government check, would they? This is exactly what social worker Ann Gentry (Anjanette Comer) suspects when she takes on the case. It does seem a little odd that the two adult daughters basically just hang around the house all day, and why exactly can’t Baby learn to walk and talk? There’s nothing to indicate that he doesn’t have the same potential as any other infant.
Ann begins spending so much time observing the Wadsworth family that she falls behind in her other work. The closer she gets to the truth, the more you worry for her safety. We’ve seen what goes on behind closed doors at this house, and none of it bodes well for Ann. At the same time, you’ve got to wonder why she’s so invested in Baby. She was reading his case file at home the night before her first visit, and there are some holes in her own personal history. Something happened to her husband, though it’s hard to tell exactly what, or whether or not he’s even still living. And “unfortunately” they never had any children. Well, what does that mean? Could it be that Ann’s intentions are just as skewed as the Wadsworths’?
The movie is as captivating as it is cringe-inducing, and though it’s impossible to look away, you’re constantly afraid that you’re going to need to. It seems as though you’re forever teetering on the brink of something really inappropriate, like maybe someone will get all confused and have sex with Baby. We do come perilously close to going there, but thankfully we’re spared from any truly scarring visuals.
And so the movie chugs along, getting creepier and creepier as Ann immerses herself in what is clearly a dangerous and unhealthy situation. The battle over Baby continues to escalate, but as we approach the film’s conclusion, it becomes harder and harder to know who to root for. The brilliant twist ending comes as a shocking surprise, and is nothing short of fabulous. The Baby is dated and campy in all the right ways, and certainly offers up plenty to poke fun at with your friends. The thing is, when all is said and done, you walk away thinking, “that was kind of great”.