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Shiva Baby – 31 Nights of Halloween Review

So far everything I’ve watched for Shocktober has been in one way or another a classical definition of the horror genre with slashers, monsters, possessions and all that good stuff, however I have yet to dive into the most anxiety inducing thing yet, anxiety. Well it is difficult to craft a movie that shrieks of horror based solely on the aspect of anxiety, but writer/director Emma Seligman accomplishes that exact feat in Shiva Baby. This film packs anxiety to the brim, then overflows into absolute chaos and spills all over the floor creating an anxiety filled mess that is absolutely beautiful.

Shiva Baby stars Danielle played by the incredible Rachel Sennott, her sugar daddy Max played by Danny Deferrari, her father played by Fred Melamed, her mother Debbie played by Polly Draper, and an old acquaintance Maya played by Molly Gordon. The film centres around a shiva, which is a Jewish funeral service, and the uncomfortableness that surrounds such events. Like running into your sugar daddy whom ends up being married, or having endless members of extended family poking and nudging you about what you’re doing with your life and examining every word you say endlessly. Even worse, having your parents berate you with utter nonsense and bother you about the mundane, all in an effort to protect the image they created of you. Anxiety inducing, am I right? Shiva Baby packs so much into 77 minutes that you will be doused in sweat at the end of it.

Shiva Baby is simply put a triumph, but that is not to say that it stands on its own without its cast to support it. Everyone in Shiva Baby gives it their all and creates a world of unease, tension, and sheer angst. The chemistry that Rachel Sennott shares with the entire cast is also palpable, every interaction she has serves its purpose, whether it is to fill the audience with anguish, make the audience squirm, or simply beg the question why can’t she escape this seemingly never ending hell. As well her chemistry with Molly Gordon, who also steals the show throughout this movie is incredible. They truly play on each other perfectly, creating a terrific atmosphere.

Everything about Shiva Baby excels and creates a tense, undying environment that is centred around the theme of loss. The loss of a relative, the loss of a relationship, the loss of your mind, and so forth. Shiva Baby may not be a horror movie in any traditional sense of the word, but the sheer amount of terror that is provoked and what it does to the human soul through its storytelling is nothing shy of horrific. See the movie for the revelation of Rachel Sennott, stay for the terrors that lay within the script.

Crave Factor – 9.5/10

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