One of the best films to play the festivals, including Fantasia, last year was Gabriel Carrer and Reese Eveneshen’s home invasion film For the Sake of Vicious. So when I started hearing a similar buzz about Baby Money directed by Luc Walpoth and Mikhael Bassilli and co-written by Bassilli and MJ Palo (Carp-E Diem) I saw some similarities and decided to check it out.
Minny (Danay Garcia, Fear the Walking Dead, 50 States of Fright) and Gil (Michael Drayer, Treasure of the Black Jaguar, Mr. Robot) are about to become parents. They’re also out of money and out of options. Desperate for cash they join Tony (Travis Hammer, VFW, The Last Ship) and Dom (Joey Kern, A Beginner’s Guide to Snuff, Bloodsucking Bastards) in what should be an easy bit of burglary. The three men go in, grab the loot and Minny does the driving.
Instead, it turns into a shootout leaving multiple fatalities and Dom and Gil hiding out in an empty house. Minny now has to figure out how to get past the police roadblocks and rescue them. When the owner, Heidi (Taja V. Simpson, Lola, Boo 2! A Madea Halloween) and her son Chris (Vernon Taylor III) who suffers from cerebral palsy return home it turns into a hostage situation.
Apart from pitting a woman against armed invaders, there’s really not much similarity between the two films. Rather than a full-on assault of violent action, Baby Money is a slow-burn, character-driven thriller. One with very little action of any kind.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen much of this many times before, the level-headed Gil trying to keep the injured and increasingly psychotic Tony under control. Heidi, desperate to keep her son and herself safe. The police showing up at an inopportune time. It’s all well enough done, but familiar and unsurprising.
Baby Money saves the film’s one big surprise for the final act. It’s an interesting twist, but it plays on a coincidence that is stretching things even by movie standards. It adds an extra layer of complication to an increasingly complicated and volatile situation. One that will unsurprisingly end in a series of double-crosses.
Apart from the last half hour, which does work up some tension and I was uncertain who would survive, Baby Money never really works as a thriller. It follows a well-worn path and doesn’t offer a lot of surprises. Even the final resolution is one we’ve seen more than once, though more usually in a horror film.
Disappointingly things that are presented as major plot points, and I would have expected to take Baby Money’s plot in different directions end up being largely irrelevant. Minny seems to have none of the complications and issues a woman eight months pregnant would. And Chris is a non-factor for most of the movie, his cerebral palsy an excuse for him to be ill on the couch. This is doubly disappointing as the actor playing him suffers from the disease in real life, I was hoping the film would have done something interesting with it.
Technically well shot and acted, Baby Money may be OK for undemanding fans or those who want something they can follow without much effort. Most others will find it dull and predictable.
Baby Money will screen on Tuesday, August 10th at 9:15 PM and Thursday, August 12th at 9:00 AM as part of this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival. You can check the film’s page on their site for details and ticket information. Baby Money has also been picked up for distribution by Red hound Films and will be released on August 31st. You can check their website and Facebook page for more information.