[Reprinted from Hey, Did You Ever See the Movie...?]
Also known as The Evil Within, Baby Blood is a notoriously-gory French horror film about a young woman and her horrific, blood-thirsty unborn fetus. The movie opens with voice-over narration courtesy of the title character, an ancient, malevolent something or other as old as the world that yearns to be born of human woman so that it might evolve physically, “improve and eventually replace mankind”. This process, he explains later, to his future mother, will take billions of years. Leaping into the body of a leopard, the being is transported to a traveling French circus. Bursting from the leopard, it finds its way to the lonely and emotionally-disturbed Yanka (the decidedly unusual Emmanuelle Escourrou), slithering its way like an eel into her womb. Once there, Yanka isn’t so much possessed as merely inhabited, but the being is a parasite able to bring her agony or pleasure at will. It needs fresh blood to survive, so it blackmails her into murdering multiple people in the most horrific ways she can. If she doesn’t do its bidding, it will simply burst out of her and find someone else. As you can guess, the pressure of this unorthodox pregnancy drives Yanka more than a tad insane. Between the murdering and the constant struggle for power over her future offspring, she has a lot to deal with emotionally.
All the while, the baby speaks to her telepathically in a smooth, uncreepy voice (in the English-dubbed version; in the original French it sounds like a maniacal cartoon character speaking through a fan), discussing human nature and behavior with her, and basically trying to get a handle on what it’s in for once born. Oh, and it needs to get back to its natural element, the sea, in order to begin evolving. Which gives Yanka thoughts towards, if not survival, than their mutual destruction.
There’s a lot going on in Baby Blood, not the least of which are numerous and extremely gory set-pieces involving Yanka’s victims and the baby’s meals. There’s even a fanciful red trip through Yanka’s body after an accident where the being wills her heart to begin beating again. Whether the movie is meant to be a nightmarish allegory, a straight-forward horror movie, or a bloody philosophical treatise, is never quite established. It might be said that at no point is it not entertaining, but I suppose that would depend on your point of view. (For some reason, it struck me as what Adrienne Shelly’s Waitress would be if Wes Craven had gotten hold of it.) Interestingly, there don’t seem to be any “heroes” in the narrative. Our sympathies are not always with Yanka, who is a broken mess from the minute we meet her and is kept at just enough arm’s length to prevent us from ever really connecting with her. Her victims are all people with ulterior motives, not the least of which raping a pregnant woman. The world through her eyes is a filthy, rotting and ruined place. Which begs the question, why do we want to live here, much the less this ancient entity?
Obviously, gore-hounds will get the biggest kick out of Baby Blood, but it’s worth a critical look as well. By the end, you’ll be fascinated, disgusted or, perhaps, mad at yourself for dwelling on it. Regardless of how you feel, it’s not an easy movie to dismiss.