aka Demon Baby; Little Devil
Director/Screenplay/Producer/Additional Photography – Coz Greenop, Photography – James Fuller, Visual Effects – The Media Cave, Makeup & Prosthetics – Jennifer Maiquez. Production Company – Green13 Films
Carina Birrell (Rose May), David Wayman (Theo Peers), Cameron Jack (Officer Thwaites), Lee Phillips (Dr Phillips), Bhasker Patel (Dr Shah)
Rose May and Theo Peers drive their campervan up into the Scottish Highlands. Rose is pregnant but as they camp in the outdoors, she begins to withdraw from Theo’s advances. After spending the night in a bothy, Rose is taken over by a spectral figure.
Wandering Rose was the directorial debut for Coz Greenop who had some previous credits as an actor. The film did festival screenings under the title Wandering Rose but was renamed as Little Devil to push it more over into the arena of horror, while the US release made things even clearer with the title Demon Baby. In all cases they seem titles that don’t match the film – Wandering Rose seems like one more suited to a film either about a hitchhiking or perhaps very promiscuous girl, while Demon Baby and Little Devil suggest a film more along the lines of Rosemary’s Baby (1968) or The Omen (1976).
Coz Greenop starts the film well. Working on a miniscule budget, the Scottish Highlands are magnificently shot and the film has an expansive look as the duo set out. Things seem to brood with an anxiety, a sense of something not quite being right that you are unable to put your finger on in the ways that David Wayman’s advances keep being avoided or he is pushed away by girlfriend Carina Birrell. There is a police officer (Cameron Jack) lurking around, one of the few other characters in the film, and his intentions seem sinisterly ambiguous. The abruptness of the flashbacks and the gradual introduction of the pregnancy and the couple’s back history serves to introduce a series of spins that start effectively exposing the deeper truths beneath.
It is in the latter half that Wandering Rose/Demon Baby moves over into its horror element, although it doesn’t always seem an easy fit. It is never particularly clear what has happened – is it Rose or her baby that has become possessed? – or what the entity inhabiting her is. Moreover, Coz Greenop’s appearances of the supernatural often seem truncated, not full scenes or else they end without much happening. Moreover, the use of more standard Hollywood ghost story effects tends to jolt you out of the mood of dis-ease that the rest of the film generates.
In reality, Wandering Rose/Demon Baby feels more like an extended short film. And one that you expect would have worked far better without trying to be a horror film. It would have worked really well at around the 20-30 minute length as a piece about the tension between a couple and the progressive revelations about the pregnancy/abortion that they may or may not have had. When it doglegs off into being a horror film as well, it seems to lose it.
Cox Greenop next went on to direct the horror film Dark Beacon (2017).