Cradle Will Fall (2008)
Also known as Baby Blues in the States, Cradle Will Fall is a shocking, visceral thriller, if not a wonderfully made one. Out in the middle of nowhere, on a remote farm, live a woman and her 4 children. Her husband is a truck driver and often away for long periods of time, leaving her to cope with the youngsters alone. Suffering postpartum depression after the latest birth, ‘Mom’ finally reaches breaking point and suffers a breakdown, which leads to her drowning her own infant in the bath and setting out to kill her other three children. It’s down to Jimmy; the eldest of the three to try and keep his siblings safe from his increasingly unhinged and murderous Mother.
The premise alone is enough to have the ‘Ban This Filth’ brigade chomping at the bit in an effort to secure its failure but Cradle Will Fall, while scandalous, cannot really be accused of being exploitative for exploitations sake. It’s based on the 2001 Andrea Yates case in which she drowned all five of her children in the family bathtub and so the story can never really be called unrealistic as it is very much grounded in disturbing fact.
It’s a story that will surely leave any audience in a state of shock and awe, regardless of how desensitized to movie violence you think you may be. Watching a Mother kill her own children crosses a line in common decency and the film is a truly startling testament to this. Not that I am bemoaning the use of such a shocking plot device, far from it! It’s been a long time since I can remember being emotionally rattled by a movie and while it’s certainly not up there with things like Irreversible in terms of truly sheer nausea-inducing, gob-smacking extremism, it still packs a relatively effective emotional punch.
Colleen Porch makes for a convincing antagonist but at times her performance is a little too exaggerated. This is certainly not detrimental to the overall effect though and the children are mostly good enough to compel at all times too. Her descent from put-upon housewife to all-out psychopath is peppered with a few cliché-skirting events but manages to remain pretty believable throughout. While clearly a very attractive woman, she and the makers eschew the need to have her remain as such and instead use her increasingly unkempt appearance as an effective visual display of her meltdown.
While the direction is nothing out of the ordinary, the performances and sheer visceral quality of the story are enough to make it very watchable. At less than an hour and a half in running length it never outstays its welcome either, making it a tense and unnerving journey into maternal madness. Aside from a somewhat improbable ending, Cradle Will Fall is a solid film that will have most people demonstrating a newfound appreciation of their Mothers.