Baby Ruby Review – Bess Wohl’s Directorial Debut is a Disappointment

While Bess Wohl's Baby Ruby boasts two impressive performances from its leads, the movie derails quickly with an inane plot.
Baby Ruby

Bess Wohl’s Baby Ruby has two great stars attached to the project: Noémie Merlant and Kit Harington. They respectively play Jo and Spencer, a couple who are excited at the arrival of their first baby, Ruby. Jo is an influencer/prospective mom blogger whose blog attracts thousands of fans daily. So, of course, she is excited to share pictures of Ruby once she is born since she has been chronicling her pregnancy. But when Ruby is finally born, the opposite of her expectations happens. 

Ruby cries incessantly, never smiles at her mother, and consistently bites her when she has the opportunity. She’s far from being the angel Jo has been painting her through her blog. She believes sinister forces are at play and that her husband (and friends), consistently gaslighting her, are in on it. It turns out she has postpartum psychosis…or is she? No, she is— scratch that, she may not be. No, I’m telling you she is! No, she’s not. 

Baby Ruby’s Premise Derails Quickly

And that’s where the movie derails. There’s so much a film can do to blur the line between reality and fiction and trick the audience into believing that what they’re seeing is a dream, vision, hallucination, or is part of Jo’s reality before they lose their patience. At first, it’s intriguing. Editor Jin Lee crafts compelling match cuts to draw us into Jo’s tormented state. Yet, even as she tries to get out of it, there’s always the lingering feeling that she may be perpetually stuck inside her mind. So it effectively blurs that line between reality and fiction…until it doesn’t.

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Wohl will frequently fake out and make the film go, “AHA! It was all a dream…or was it?” for 93 tedious minutes. The “It was all a dream” card is the lamest possible “get out of jail” card a filmmaker can use when they’re stuck in an impasse. It’s even lamer when it keeps being done to attempt to blur the lines between reality and fiction further. But here’s the problem: if all of it is a dream or all of it is real, but in a dream, without a sense of coherence between those states, the audience quickly loses interest and will believe the entire thing is a total cop-out.

Baby Ruby

Baby Ruby is so desperate to be a modern attempt at Rosemary’s Baby, without the effective gaslighting at play, that any attempt at establishing tension is quickly hindered by the fact that none of it may be accurate. When you consistently play with audiences, they quickly become disinterested because most of the movie feels manipulative instead of thoughtful or, in this case, scary. 

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What does Wohl want to say about postpartum depression and/or psychosis? That it corrupts the mind? It makes people go nuts? If that’s the case, then, sure, she’s succeeded. But did we need five thousand dream sequences to get to that point? Probably not. And every single time the movie goes, “AHA! It was all a dream,” it loses steam even more.

Noémie Merlant and Kit Harrington Are The Best Parts of Baby Ruby

Baby Ruby

It’s good that Noémie Merlant and Kit Harington are excellent in the movie. Merlant is exceptional. She’s been one to watch if you’ve closely paid attention to French cinema. Once Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire came out, her international stardom solidified. Baby Ruby proves that Merlant can outshine the terrible material and deliver an incredible performance even in a lousy movie. And the chemistry she shares with Kit Harington, who plays Sammy with a fantastic sense of cluelessness about what’s going on, is terrific. 

It’s a shame that almost everything else falls flat. The atmosphere is enjoyable enough, the score is enticing, and the performances are excellent, but the script treats its audience as if they’re complete fools. But we’re not fools, and we deserve more innovative horror movies than whatever the hell Baby Ruby is. 


Baby Ruby is now playing in select theatres and available to rent or buy on video-on-demand.

What are your thoughts on Baby Ruby? Do you think Noémie Merlant and Kit Harington were the best parts? How do you deal with a crying baby? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to follow us on social media!

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Maxance Vincent

Maxance Vincent

Maxance is a freelance film and TV writer, and a recent graduate of a BFA in Film Studies at the University of Montreal, with a specialization in Video Game Studies.