If you’re like me and you took a moment to view the trailer for Nasty Baby directed by Sebastián Silva, you would probably be expecting an experimental piece of cinema fundamentally designed to make the audience feel uncomfortable and unnerved. That’s certainly the impression I got after watching the trailer, which is interesting viewing with its abrupt change of tone halfway through from whimsical romantic low key affair to loud unsettling dubstep, flashing lights and quick cuts of violent images akin the infamous Clockwork Orange trailer. So coming into this movie I was expecting a thoroughly uncomfortable intense experience coupled with distressing imagery and suitable amounts of gore. But Nasty Baby isn’t nearly as gruesome as the promotion would have you believe. In fact, the tone of the movie, in general, makes it quite hard to categorize.
Freddy (Played by the director Sebastián Sliva) is an artist. Trying to put together a bizarre art piece where he acts and rolls around the floor like a baby. The idea behind as an attempt to visualize his guilt for being a homosexual and wanting to be a father. Which he feels is selfish to want to use a surrogate when they’re thousands of orphans that would need a home. So as a punishment he feels the need to humiliate himself on a public stage. At the same time, he’s desperate to be a father. Fortunately enough his best friend Polly (Kristen Wiig), also wants to have a baby and is more than happy to be the surrogate mother and have a role in raising the child. But Freddy has a low sperm count so he has to convince his boyfriend Mo (Tunde Adebimple) to help out. But Mo is somewhat hesitant and uncomfortable about the whole situation. To add to the stress, a strange man who calls himself simply “The Bishop” (Reg E. Cathey) shows up on their street and his unusual behaviour serves as a point of contention for the trio. Especially when he begins to shout out homophobic slurs whenever he sees them.
Of course, the obvious question to ask first is how these three seemingly random plot threads manage to connect with each other? To be perfectly honest for the longest time they don’t. This movie has some of the oddest pacing you are ever likely to see. The first and second acts of the movie have the speed and energy of a turtle, but the third act totally yanks the viewer from their comfort zone like someone threw ice water over them. Really the sudden turn that is the third act is just what the movie needed because, for long periods of the first half, the film had a general aimless quality to it. It felt like there was really no point to justify scenes and at times the plot almost seemed to totally stand still. However, the big plot tweak doesn’t feel like it happened organically and it really doesn’t seem like it’s where the story as a whole was going. Instead. it seemed like a cheap ploy to grab the audience’s attention that was most likely struggling.
That being said, you couldn’t really call it an awful movie by any imagination. The characters are far and away the strongest aspect of the movie. They were able to pull off the relaxed vibe of being long time friends easily with Wiig especially seeming very relaxed in the role. Generally however for a movie with such a blunt name as “Nasty Baby” the film as a whole seemed like it had no idea what it wanted to say and an hour after seeing it, Nasty Baby would most likely vanish from the memories of anyone who saw it.