by Nile Fortner
The Lullaby is a 2018 South African horror film directed by Darrell Roodt and written by Tarryn-Tanile. The film centers on a 19-year-old mother named Chloe Heerden, who returns to her hometown, Eden Rock, and tries to embrace the terms of being a mother. Even though Chloe has support from her mother, Ruby, Chloe has the willies and has a difficult time grasping the idea of being a mother.
Babies are gonna do what babies are gonna do, meaning they cry, poop, scream, and this sends Chloe down a dark hole of depression, guilt, and paranoia. Chloe eventually starts hearing some voices in her head which resemble a lullaby from her childhood. This leads to Chloe seeing dark imagery and flashes around her baby, and Chloe soon realizes the life of her son is in some serious danger.
I would actually consider this more of a psychological horror flick than just a straight-up horror film. The Lullaby has done its homework within the horror genre. By this I mean the film does have a good pace at slowly building up to some tension. Which I personally don’t mind, because it’s like a roller coaster for whoever is watching the movie. You start off slow and the next thing you know everything from the scares, paranoia, and freaky shenanigans start to come in full swing. On the other hand, if you are someone who wants something fast-paced, quick, and to the point, I don’t think this horror film is for you.
One of my favorite aspects of the movie and something I don’t talk about enough is the lighting. I love the lighting in this film. That dark-grey tone atmosphere throughout really adds to the eeriness of this film. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but the film has a bathroom scene where the lights are flickering on and off, and a creepy character pops up out of a bathtub. That is one of my favorite scenes because of how they played with the lighting and how the lighting helps to hype-up that tension and fear.
While watching this I couldn’t help think of other horror movies that have possibly inspired this movie, such as The Shining and Rosemary’s Baby. I do give credit for the movie presenting some new story elements and ideas to the table. On the other hand, I just wish this movie could have had just a couple less jump scares. I now it is the trend to have the jump scare with the music building up louder and louder. But with a story that has some fresh ideas, I would like to see some more fresh ways to scare people other than what we’ve been bombarded with over the last few years.
In addition, the imagery is practically the star of this feature. The movie has some good imagery throughout, but I find the imagery and lighting to be the best part about this movie. The story did try to offer a couple of new elements, but after the movie is over, the only thing I’m really going to keep in mind is the lighting and imagery. Also, I thought the ending to this movie was actually fun and it had me on the edge of my seat a majority of the time.
So these are my final thoughts on The Lullaby. I do like this movie and the movie does move at a good pace to build up that tension that leads up to a good climax. However, I wish the story could have went deeper into the characters and offered something new other than what we’ve seen before in the horror genre today. Overall, I see this as a good effort and …
I am giving The Lullaby a 3 out of 5 Hairpieces!
Cinephellas (CP): At what age or time in your life did filmmaking cross from a hobby to something more serious?
Reine Swart (RS): Just after high school, I got an agent in Johannesburg and started off. In the beginning, I got commercials that later lead to a principal role in a popular South African TV soap, Villa Rosa.
CP: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life creating film?
RS: These days you can make a film on your iPhone. Start creating by writing your own material and film it. Make a reel and find a job in a production office possibly, where you can learn a lot. Or just create your own films, submit it to film festivals, and network with fellow filmmakers.
CP: How did they finance this project?
RS: Our determined producers, Andre Frauenstein and Samuel Frauenstein, got investors to finance our film. This is the most difficult part in making a film and for that we need to give them a big thanks for bringing it all together. I am truly grateful for this amazing opportunity.
CP: What is it like being on a set in Gauteng and other parts of South Africa?
RS: I grew up in Pretoria, Gauteng, so it was a familiar environment to me. Filming in the lovely ghost town, Kaapsehoop, was an incredible and surreal experience. Furthermore being on set with phenomenal fellow cast members (Thandi Puren, Deanre Reiners, Brandon Auret, Dorothy-Ann Gould) and the talented crew was absolutely wonderful.
CP: What is the biggest challenge you had to overcome while filming and how did you overcome that challenge?
RS: I had sticky blood all over in some scenes and it sometimes became uncomfortable, but the more I had to be covered in it, the more I got used to it. It wasn’t that bad after all.
CP: What do you think the film has to say about the world we live in?
RS: We sometimes judge situations or people to quick. Do not judge people with mental illnesses. As what they experience is real for them and frightening.
CP: What emotions do you feel your film brings forth in viewers?
RS: Mostly anxiety and rage.
CP: What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?
RS: Films such as The Shining and Schindler’s List. The one because it was bizarre and brilliant at the same time. And the other, because it tells a universal story that needs to be told.
CP: Would you say filmmaking changed your life or did your life change your filmmaking?
RS: I think my life changing the way I approach filmmaking with each project.
CP: Are there common qualities in cinema today that you dislike?
RS: I dislike it when a film is predicable.
CP: What was the last horror film you saw and why did you see it?
RS: The last horror film that I saw was IT and it was absolutely great. I watched it, because the trailer really draw me. Other than a film, I watched the TV series “Channel Zero” recently and it is intriguing.
CP: What are some lullaby’s that creeped you out and can you recite them?
RS: “Siembamba” is a South African lullaby and this film, The Lullaby, is based on that lullaby. It is an old lullaby sang by the Afrikaans community about how you should kill your baby… It is quite disturbing.
CP: What are some everyday things you’re afraid of?
RS: I am afraid of sunburns and the dark basement.
CP: What would someone find in your refrigerator right now that may seem like an everyday item but can scare someone?
RS: I have red ice cubes in my freezer that looks like frozen blood.
CP: What does that refrigerator item say about you and does it say anything about this film?
RS: I like frozen strawberry juice and it doesn’t really say anything about this film. If I’d really like to dig deep, it can resemble the frozen “Liam” scene in the film…
CP: What do you hope for the future of horror movies and why?
RS: I hope that we get more and more unique horrors that shock us in the best ways, because it helps you escape from everyday life and extends your imagination.
CP: Do you have any future projects in the works?
RS: My “project” at the moment is that we are busy moving from Portland to Southern California this week. Excited to start a new chapter in a new State. Other than acting, I am in post production phase with a short thriller, “Eiko in Portland”, that I directed.
CP: Where do you hope to go from here with your career in film?
RS: I hope to get more wonderful credits as an actor and hope to direct a few projects in my career.
We would like to thank Reine Swart for taking the time to get interviewed by Cinephellas! The Lullaby hits theaters and VOD on March 2nd.
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