DVD Review: Dead Babies (2000)

“The jokes, the drugs, it all gets so tedious”

If you use Lovefilm, then you might have experienced that moment when you open the packet and you have no earthly clue as to what the film is that they have sent you. Compiling the list of films that you want to watch starts when you first open your account, which in my case was a good couple of years ago and the thought processes that go behind adding things, as you browse through various categories and names, remain a mystery as all sorts of random things end up on there. So I was genuinely intrigued by the prospect of Dead Babies and decided to pop in the DVD without googling it to if it would become clear to me.

And sure enough it soon did and in the most delightful of ways as two of my favourite actresses, Alexandra Gilbreath and Olivia Williams, popped up in the opening scenes. And based on a novel by Martin Amis, my hopes were fairly high. But good Lord they were soon dashed with what was really quite a terrible film. Set in a country house over a long weekend where a group of self-involved old college friends invite some American pals over in anticipation of some hard-core experimental drug taking, but William Marsh’s directorial debut revels far too much in depicting scenes of hedonistic debauchery at the expense of anything else.

There’s no depths to proceedings, no attempt at character development, a half-hearted attempt at working in the subplot of extremist activists, and just a relentless torrent of drug fuelled madness. There’s just so much of it that any impact it might have had is soon dulled and any of the complexities of Amis’ writing have been lost in the adaptation, also by Marsh who also stars in the film which might explain some of its weaknesses. Perhaps more of an outside eye might have been able to work more effectively with the material, but the phrase that springs to mind is you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear…even with performers of the calibre of Gilbreath, Williams and Paul Bettany.

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