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Film Review: Lullaby (2016)

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SYNOPSIS:

John and Sarah have it all. A happy marriage, two wonderful children, and a beautiful house in a picturesque neighborhood. They’re truly living the American Dream, until the sun sets over their new home, and an unknown terror steps out of the shadows. Sarah is missing. A mysterious caller has their eyes set on the children. And a neighbor knows more than they’ll admit. With the safety of his family at stake, John propels himself into a chaotic spiral of violence and blood of which he may never return, all to protect those he loves the most.

REVIEW:

Lullaby is a chore to watch. The characters are all terribly unlikeable people. The story is ludicrous and the unpleasant material in the movie is matched only by acting that is on par with DMV employees. The predictability of this plot becomes evident really soon into the film, which is disappointing.

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John is a young man caring for a young girl and baby. While taking care of these kids at a nice suburban home, it becomes evident that John is not actually their parent. Their actual parents have been injured and are being kept in the basement. John has an insane fascination with the mother of this family and his history with her has led to him invading their home.

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The beginning of the film prior to discovering John’s nature is very odd to watch. The acting is on par with imagining aliens coming to Earth and pretending to be casual humans in human skin and yet not being natural in any delivery. John seems bored then uncomfortable. The “twist” is predictable and while it is supposed to be disturbing it mostly comes off as cheap. I’ve seen more natural deliveries from C3P0 than some of the actors on screen.

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The biggest movie plot hole is that the police have the house surrounded and John constantly walks around the windows. The police snipers or a semi-competent S.W.A.T. team would have ended this movie a long time ago. We would not have to deal with the terrible relationship drama of the married couple in the basement and the insanity of John. There are scenes where the baby that John is watching is crying and the baby is obviously very visibly upset. It makes the movie come off really unpleasant and I feel very disappointed that they made a baby sad for this movie. It simply is not worth it.

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If there is a redeeming factor to Lullaby it is that there are scenes that are made to make you feel uncomfortable that are successful at their purpose. At one point a neighbor visits John while he is with the kids and she wanders into the house uninvited, stands incredibly close to John, and even eats some of his food. It is an invasive scene but the mood is achieved.

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If they could re-write this movie I can think of a few items that would polish it up. For one thing, seeing the actual home invasion in a flashback would have worked. It would have added some tension to the movie. There is also a scene where the little girl has diabetes and passes out. While discussing the option of releasing the mother to give the girl her insulin the next scene just shows John giving the now conscious girl a glass of water. That disconnect really could have had a transition that made what occurred much more clear. Then, when it is revealed that John is violent it gets disturbing fast. When on the phone to police negotiators he basically says he will rape and gut the kids if the police do not turn back on the electricity. Now whether or not the character would actually do that is up for debate but it still makes the central character of the narrative pretty despicable to even seriously suggest that to the police.

Lullaby is not an entertaining movie. The characters are wildly unlikable and since the writing direction comes off more like a poor stage play than a film there is very little to keep a person interested. This is the sort of movie that might have worked back in the early 90s when twists in movies were all the rage and nobody had smartphones to contend with for the attention of the viewer. Also with so many better movies, even in the independent arena there are a lot of reasons to make sure that the product is decent. If you are looking for a movie about home invasions that have some brains I suggest Panic Room, When a Stranger Calls, or the most recent version of Mother’s Day.

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