Jo’s fear that a secret cult is going to kidnap Ruby certainly brings to mind “Rosemary’s Baby,” but the storyline also evokes the dread and suspicion that permeates “Hereditary.” Stranger danger is a persistent fear for all parents, especially those who have the responsibility of caring for a child for the first time.
Ruby meets Shelly (Meredith Hagner), an excessively cheery, modern Stepford Wife who refuses to let Jo see her baby in the stroller; “You never wake a sleeping baby,” she snaps. Their relationship becomes intense, eventually leading to a hazy night of debauchery that may or may not be real. Shelly is a part of a bigger Mom Club made of sleek, effervescent women who jog with their strollers in creepy synchronization. Their over-the-top friendliness feels sinister, much like the cult in “Hereditary,” who appear as everyday people.
Both films illustrate how frightening it is to be surrounded by others with ulterior motives, especially when they present as friendly. The gentle-voiced Joan (Ann Dowd) who pretends to be a stranger from a grief support group in “Hereditary” is just as sweet and approachable as Shelly. The Paimon-worshipers were real in “Hereditary,” but in “Baby Ruby” Jo imagines that these ordinary suburban women are a part of a cult that want to steal children for their own. Jo’s paranoia reflects typical anxieties that mothers have about interacting with new people and learning to trust them with their children.
If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression or psychosis, there is help available. Contact Postpartum Support International or use their resources to find a provider today.