Billed as a suspense thriller, “Down Will Come Baby” represents the worst of every TV movie cliche. A decent cast that includes Tom Amandes, Diana Scarwid and Meredith Baxter suffers from a hodgepodge script and so many plot holes that even as camp value, “Down Will Come Baby” is a hard sell.
This cautionary tale centers on a modern family where both mom and dad pursue time-consuming careers, leaving their rambunctious teenage daughter vulnerable to deadly influences.
Leah Garr (Baxter) is a remote mother, calling in good-night kisses from her cell phone as she jets back and forth between her home in Phoenix and a promising new job in Denver. Her career is on the fast track, her family on the back burner, but it’s all for the best she tells her put-upon husband, Marcus (Amandes).
The Denver job means more money, possibly a bigger house, perhaps a better life. But Marcus, a successful architect, resents having to do the errands, shopping and cooking — all with a full-time job. Tensions erupt when Leah puts on the big squeeze to relocate the whole family to Denver.
Tired of being caught in the crossfire of her parent’s endless bickering, Robin (Wood) decides to spend some time at summer camp where she meets and bunks with a shy and awkward girl named Amelia (Booze-Mooney). Amelia, who has a series of strange scars all over her back, talks of a secluded life with her mother and clings to her outgoing bunk mate. When Amelia drowns in a bizarre swimming accident, Robin returns home, blaming herself.
Failing to connect with their obviously depressed daughter, it isn’t long before Leah and Marcus return to business as usual. When Robin meets the sympathetic Dorothy (Scarwid), a new woman in the apartment building, Robin begins confiding in her.
Dorothy quickly ingratiates herself into Robin’s life becoming a surrogate mom who bakes cookies and helps with homework. But Dorothy has her quirks, like following Robin, taking endless photographs and eavesdropping on the young girl via a baby monitor that has been secretly planted in her room.
Leah, despite a ridiculous blind spot on most family matters, becomes suspicious, not to mention jealous, of this mysterious woman. But Marcus has come to rely on Dorothy in Leah’s frequent absence and uses her as a weapon of guilt against his wife. On some level, this could have been an interesting subplot but writer-director Gregory Goodell glosses over it in favor of shock value and tired plot twists.
Any points the telepic accumulates as a guilty pleasure are lost in the last quarter when events take a sudden and drastic shift, introducing ugly and menacing elements into the plot.
Even more disturbing, however, are the undertones of Goodell’s script, in which. modern women basically are relegated into two camps — career mom and stay-at-home nurturer — and both get monstrous characteristics. In “Down Will Come Baby’s” world, bad things will (and should) happen to neglectful mothers as a lesson to remind them of their place in the world.
This poorly handled theme of unavoidable collision between career and family ends up skewing the thesps’ performances. Baxter waffles between being selfish and sympathetic as Leah, coming to life only when the script calls for her motherly instincts finally to kick into gear.
Amandes, as Marcus, is whiny and inexplicably oblivious to the needs of both his daughter and wife.
Scarwid definitely has a future playing villains, although her ridiculous wardrobe and an extremely bad haircut are used to emphasize just how disturbed Dorothy really is.
Wood offers the most consistent performance and is credible as Robin.
Overall tech credits meet minimum standards.