FILM

Hell Baby
By Christian Anderson With on February 10, 2013

Losing My Religion: The Revelation of Hell Baby Religion can’t save you, the police can’t protect you, and medicine won’t cure you. Sometimes, a man has to turn his back on institutional help and dig deep within his own soul to solve the problem. Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon’s “Hell Baby,” a wonderfully silly spoof on horror, does not aim to expose the holes in our current social structures. However, if movies reflect the collective pulse of our society, then even this blood splattering, laugh-out-loud horror/comedy can offer a social revelation to its viewers. The film centers around the expectant couple Jack and Vanessa (Rob Corddry and Leslie Bibb), who have purchased a cheap fixer-upper in New Orleans. They soon learn that their steal of a deal is home to a history of murders. The spirits are alive and before you can say “Hell Baby,” Vanessa is possessed and the house is haunted. What’s a man to do? Jack calls a psychiatrist to heal his wife, but the doctor is crucified by his wife’s demonic spirit. Jack calls the police, but they are sidetracked by po’ boys and strip clubs. Jack calls his Wicken sister-in-law, but her séance is clouded with marijuana smoke. Jack even enlists Vatican exorcists, but the newborn hell baby runs circles around their holy war. Ultimately, Jack pushes his team aside and finds the power within to kill the devilish newborn himself. Is "Hell Baby" an absurd horror/comedy that aims to spoof and have fun? Absolutely. Is there a deeper theme that questions the inept institutions that surround us? Maybe. Nevertheless, what questions can it raise? From a theological perspective, Jack’s frustration over the ineffective institutional help that surrounds him echoes the modern seeker’s frustration over religion’s traditional structure that does not fulfill them. Jack’s abandonment of law and religion in favor of his own inner strength matches the seeker that left the church and proudly exclaims, “I’m spiritual, not religious.” Corrdry and Bibb did not write “Hell Baby” as a call for another Reformation. However, their public elation of being able to freely express themselves without the suffocating hands of the studio system, definitely matches the triumph of Jack and the exclamation of the ex-church attendee. Amidst the crass and silly antics of “Hell Baby,” is a celebration of self empowerment when our social structures fail to serve us. Perhaps, the church might hear these current voices of discontent. If so, will it listen, or have a bloody good time laughing about them?

About the Author: Christian Anderson
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