The first video I rented from Blockbuster was a rather questionable DTV horror film called Devil’s Child (1997) with Matthew Lillard and Kim Delaney. A pointless snippet of trivia if ever there was one, but whenever a supernaturally orientated pregnancy film shows up I tend to think back to the long line of similarly themed movies that have gone before, from the sublime The Brood (1979) to the ridiculous Blessed (2004) – Heather Graham… so so bad. My point being here is that upon watching Delivery you can’t help but compare it to similarly themed movies, and when one of those is Rosemary’s Baby (1968) then originality may be a tall order.
Where Brian Netto’s film differs here is with its use of found footage. Now, before I hear the universal groan of resigned disappointment of another flick jumping on the Duracell bunny powered found footage bandwagon, it was interesting to hear that much of the leg work for Delivery was done prior to the emergence of this recent wave of FF – i.e pre-Paranormal Activity. Netto has stated that he had the opportunity to sit down with Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity’s director) before the film’s release to pick his brains about the techniques and methods he used.
In the film we are swiftly introduced to Rachel (Vail) and Kyle (Barclay), and informed on screen that Rachel recorded the video diary that we are about to see in the six months prior to her death. The reason for her video diary is because both Rachel and Kyle are taking part in Delivery, a reality show that documents the experiences of a couple that are pregnant. As opposed to the regular ‘reality show’ themed horror movies, they’ve really tried to replicate the genuine feel of one here – from the sun baked opening credits sequence to such detail as the content descriptor icon in the corner of the screen.
Rachel and Kyle experienced some difficultly in conceiving, so the news of a forthcoming baby is received with both excitement and a degree of apprehension not least amongst their friends who are gathered round during the pilot episode to be told the good news. A short time later however Kyle discovers his wife in the bathroom having lost a notable amount of blood and naturally he presumes the worst which is soon confirmed by the doctor. They’re told that the miscarriage can be allowed to run its course or that they can have a procedure to speed along the process. Rachel decides to let nature run its course but the following day she asks the hospital staff if they could satisfy her nagging curiosity and try an ultrasound during which, to the surprise of everyone, a heartbeat is detected. From the perky, happy nature of the pilot episode of the show the film then switches to footage compiled from 275 hours of unaired recordings which is the signal for things to get gradually darker.
The key aspect for me that made Delivery stand out amongst in counterparts in the field is the relationship between our lead couple. Rachel manages to exhibit a sense of total emotional fragility as she becomes obsessed with what could be haunting her, whilst her partner Kyle retains a level of cynicism towards her condition. With each meltdown he displays an air of distrust and instead worries about her mental state, and when members of the production team inform him of voices and such like that they picked up on the microphones he’s immediately dismissive. This friction between the couple bleeds into the viewers’ consciousness as for the majority of the film we remain torn as to the legitimacy of Rachel’s condition.
The terms ‘pregnancy themed horror movie’ and ‘originality’ are rarely spoken in the same review, and in all honesty when the DVD of Delivery landed in my hands it didn’t exactly drive me wild with excitement. (Mainly due to the cover – the US one sheet is SO much better) How pleasing it is to be surprised by a direct to video horror movie! From the talking heads that the movie uses who all speak with authority and pragmatism to the measured, patient gradual build-up of atmosphere and intrigue. Delivery may not exactly set the world alight with the originality of its theme, but where it takes it demands that it should be sought out and awarded the recognition it deserves.