Lullaby Poster

Lullaby (2022) Review

Lullaby, not to be confused with The Lullaby, is the new film from John R. Leonetti (Annabelle, Wish Upon), This time, working from a script by former WWE writer Alex Greenfield and Ben Powell, who also co-wrote The Sand, he’s unleashing the wrath of Lilith (Kira Guloien, Night Cries, Women Talking) on new parents Rachel (Oona Chaplin, ReAlive, Anchor and Hope) and John (Ramón Rodríguez, Iron Fist, Need for Speed).

As the film opens the couple gets a package of baby things from Rachel’s mother. They belonged to Rachel’s sister Vivian (Liane Balaban, Woman in Car, Meditation Park) who lost both her baby and her husband under strange circumstances. Why her mother would send them and why they would actually use them is one of life’s great mysteries.

But use them they do, especially a hymn found in an old book which seems to be the only thing that will calm baby Eli down. It’s not long before they’re hearing voices and seeing strange things on the baby monitor as well as in the shower.

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Becoming a parent is one of the scariest and most stressful parts of a person’s life and the makers of Lullaby understand that and incorporate the effects of sleep deprivation, postpartum body image issues and the overwhelming fear of something happening to the child into the script.

The problem is, the script wastes them on things we’ve seen so many times before. Electronics malfunctioning, a ghostly baby crying in the night, the lights go out in a thunderstorm for maximum jump scare potential, an evil face peering out of a closet. We’ve seen these so many times before that it feels like a modern horror’s greatest hits playlist. To his credit, Leonetti does stage them with some conviction, but by this point, they’ve pretty much lost their power to shock beyond a cheap jump scare.

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Like The Vigil and The Offering, Lullaby incorporates Judaism into its plot rather than Christianity, which gives some scenes. Such as John’s consultation with Rabbi Cohen (Alex Karzis, Detention, Orphan Black) a fresh look. But unlike the other two films, that’s all it feels like. Rather than deeply root the plot in the lore of the Kabbalah, they just changed a few names in an often told story which is not enough to make it feel fresh.

It’s too bad because Lullaby does have a convincingly dark, atmospheric look to it. Cinematographer Michael Galbraith (Dark Web: Cicada 3301, The Silence) gets a lot of mileage out of the apartment that most of the film takes place in. He makes the improbably large and spacious rooms into expenses of darkness where anything could be hiding, and the hallways a prelude to the other world the film inevitably ends up visiting.

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And there is something hiding in that darkness, Lilith’s own deformed children who serve as her minions. They should be disturbing to look at, but the film’s CGI fails at what should have been a fairly easy task, and they look about as scary as The Garbage Pail Kids. There’s also a scene in a room full of babies that, whether CGI or practical effects, look so much like cheap rubber dolls I couldn’t help laughing.

In the end, Lullaby is a good-looking but vapid and predictable story that comes up well short of other similar films. It also strengthens the feeling that Annabelle was a fluke and Leonetti, who made his directorial debut with Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, should consider going back to cinematography where he has a much more impressive set of credits.

Lullaby is available on VOD and Digital platforms via Vertical Releasing. If you want something similar, but hopefully better, FilmTagger can suggest a few titles.

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