Manhattan Baby 2001 Horror Movie Review
Horror movies Review
“Manhattan Baby” opens with an excellent prologue set in atmospheric ruins of the Egyptian pyramids. Lucio Fulci seems very at home filming these photogenic sequences which set up a rather daft story about possession via an ancient amulet. Naturally the possessed individual is an irritating child (influences of “The Exorcist”), and Fulci’s reliance on his two child actors, and lots of narrative inconsistencies ultimately undoes the promise of this fine opening. Fulci’s usually insane editing patterns create an immediate sense of disconnectedness and a filmic space in which time and its ever shifting progress cannot be trusted.
Unfortunately the whole thing goes downhill (as it often does in Fulci’s films) when he has to deal with characters and their complex interactions. When the action moves to Manhattan, the clichés begin to pile up, the actors show their limitations and the whole thing collapses into senselessness. But fans of Lucio Fulci, of which I consider myself one don’t care about these things. In fact much of the pleasure from Fulci’s work derives from this lack of cohesion and sense.
But other things save “Manhattan Baby” from outright disaster. It’s clear that this at one time was a very ambitious project, and Fulci struggles to realise the visual ambitions that a limited budget imposed on him. But his efforts are well worth watching. The film is also very self referential, not only too more obvious big budget productions such as “The Exorcist”, “The Shining” and “The Awakening”, but also too Fulci’s own films. The strange alienated and empty landscape of Egypt is oddly evocative of Fulci’s vision of hell in “The Beyond”.
Fulci’s efforts to create atmosphere necessarily lead to a film that is very light on gore (save for a particularly inventive stuffed bird attack), and the director makes little use of the potential of his Manhattan locations. Although the ancient evil which possesses the young girl is never satisfactorily explained, it does provide some nice moments involving snakes and scorpions. In conclusion this is an interesting, intriguing, but ultimately failed experiment which marked the end of Fulci’s most creative and successful period.