From Ellen Ripley protecting Newt in Aliens to the relationship between an exasperated mother and her tearaway son in The Babadook, the maternal bond is ripe with possibility when it comes to the horror genre. In The Goblin Baby, director Shoshana Rosenbaum uses good ol’-fashioned genre tropes to tackle an issue which affects many new mothers: postpartum depression. Claire (Orianna Oppice) finds herself struggling with her newborn son Charlie, but after reading a rather grim fairytale she begins to suspect that the child she’s caring for may not be her own.
There’s nothing here aesthetically that you haven’t seen before, but what’s there is all well-crafted and presented – not least considering the relatively small budget. Nyles Lannon’s music leans heavily on nursery rhyme cues and percussion to creepy effect, while DoP Aaron Shirley and sound designer J Walter Schwartz create a marked contrast between the warmth of Claire’s cosy suburban home and the cold, Blair Witch-esque forest that surrounds it.
What really makes The Goblin Baby stand out is the smart script by Rosenbaum and a totally committed central performance from Oriana Oppice which keeps the line between the normal and supernatural nice and blurry. Claire, like so many women with a new child, is more or less on her own. Her husband (Joe Brack) has no problem sleeping through the cries that wake her in the wee hours, while the two women she interacts with – her mother-in-law (Kathryn Browning) and an old friend (Tonya Beckman) – are bursting to give her advice and prove just how well they have it all under control.
Society is getting more and more confident with discussing issues of mental health, yet postpartum depression remains as one of our bigger blind spots. The Goblin Baby is a valiant effort at redressing that balance, and a great little psychological horror film to boot.
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CAST: Oriana Oppice, Joe Brack, Kathryn Browning, Tonya Beckman, Kim Tuvin, Michael Gabel
DIRECTOR: Shoshana Rosenbaum
WRITER: Shoshana Rosenbaum
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Aaron Shirley
EDITOR: Shoshana Rosenbaum
SYNOPSIS: A supernatural thriller about the first year of motherhood.