Angel Baby (2023) Review
Angel Baby opens with Val (Isabel Cueva, Jack the Reaper, Aztec Warrior), and her husband Justin (Dan Thiel, Deep Blue Sea, Valley Girl) getting into their Jeep in a hospital parking lot. Val has just miscarried twins and is, understandably, taking it badly. Her best friend Chloe (Whitney Anderson, Alyce Kills, American Poltergeist 3), who is also her doctor, suggests relocating might help Val recover. Since she’s also become sensitive to noise, a place in the country seems like a good idea.
Moving out to the country, Val seems to be doing better at first, but it isn’t long before she hears strange noises, sees doors opening on their own and shadowy figures creeping around outside. We see it with her, but for most of the film’s first half, Justin always seems to arrive after the fact. Even odder, a book titled Angel Baby turns up among the ones her editor sent to her for review, although she claims to have no knowledge of it.
The script by Rebecca Stahl (My Father’s Brownies) and Elisa Manzini (I’ll Be Watching, It Hits You When You Know It) is familiar stuff, a woman suffering the loss of a pregnancy, relocating to the country, a house with a bloody past, seemingly devoted husband who’s starting to act strangely., there’s even a creepy music box. Actor Douglas Tait makes his feature directing debut in Angel Baby, as well as playing the abusive father we see beaten to death by his kids in the prologue. His direction, like the script, sticks to the basics and offers up no real surprises.
The film does work up a few twists in the final act, I will give it credit there. They’re not all that surprising, but they do deviate from what the script was leading you to believe. Unfortunately, it also leaves off with several unanswered questions. And an implication that the abusive father’s ghost isn’t all that bad after all, which I find more than a little disgusting.
It’s also a very tame film, despite the prologue and ending. The father’s murder isn’t seen, just heard via less than effective sound work. Nothing ever gets more graphic than a little bit of blood, even when people are hitting each other’s heads with hammers and fireplace pokers.
The three leads do what they can with the material, but it would take Oscar calibre performers to make this script shine. As far as the film’s two big names, Rebecca De Mornay (Runaway Train, I Am Wrath) has a couple of scenes as a bartender and Daniel Roebuck (Final Destination, Dead Night) is barely on-screen as the sheriff. Veteran character actor Chris Browning (Escape from Area 51, Agnes) is similarly wasted as a busybody neighbour.
Given the film’s glossy look and sanitized treatment of its subject matter, it actually feels like a slightly bigger budgeted Lifetime movie, they just need to sensationalize the title and stick “Stalked” or “Psycho” in it, better yet, Stalked By a Psycho Ghost has a great ring to it. Granted, those films seem to have a big audience and if you’re part of it you may well love Angel Baby.
However, if you’re watching Angel Baby expecting a horror movie or an effective thriller, you’re going to be very disappointed. The ghostly activity is minor and never really amounts to much until the end, maybe. The thriller elements aren’t any better, being fairly predictable most of the way through, even that last act twist I mentioned will occur to some people, it’s been done more than a few times as well.
Quiver Distribution will release Angel Baby in theatres as well as to Digital Platforms on December 15th.