Jake Byrd’s directorial debut, Adalynn, delves into the psyche of a new mother fighting to keep her sanity during a bout of severe postpartum depression.
Sydney Carvill plays Adalynn, who just gave birth to a baby girl after losing her first baby not so long ago during childbirth. In fact, the first loss was so deeply traumatic, Adalynn developed a severe form of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
To ensure that her pregnancy would be safe for the baby, Adalynn stopped taking her OCD medication under the supervision of her obstetrician (Rob Shuster) and physician husband, Bill (Wade Baker). However, now that the baby is born, Adalynn is still unable to return to her meds as she is breastfeeding her daughter.
Everything about motherhood seems to be going great, but Bill’s cross-country trip for a medical conference couldn’t have come at a worse time. With the baby crying more than ever, the lack of sleep, and being off her medication, Adalynn’s OCD behavior returns, and she begins to experience signs of Postpartum Depression. Then, of course, as Adalynn struggles with sheer physical exhaustion from a lack of sleep coupled with mental exhaustion, she begins hearing a small child’s voice which morphs into hallucinations involving her baby.
“With the baby crying more than ever, the lack of sleep, and being off her medication, Adalynn’s OCD behavior returns…”
Adalynn is a strong, though flawed, start for first-time horror director Jake Byrd. The strength of Adalynn comes from Jerrod D. Britto’s script. Adalynn horrific journey through her postpartum depression makes her a highly relatable character to root for. Adalynn takes all the elements of the subject matter and finds those horror elements that slide seamlessly between dreams and reality.
Sydney Carvill gives a standout as Adalynn in this highly complex role. Carvill navigates through her various states of mental health with seeming ease. One standout moment for Carvill is her portrayal of Adalynn’s genuine struggle to stay off her OCD meds and her feeling of being lost in her mind.
The flaws of Adalynn have more to do with the film’s low budget, and maybe this is the director’s freshman feature outing. Many of the effects just fell short of the mark. Adalynn‘s baby was clearly not a baby (still better than Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper), which lessened the impact in scenes where the baby was intentionally not supposed to be a baby. I get that in certain scenes, you couldn’t use a real baby (for its safety and availability), but finding solutions for these problems is the mark of a good indie filmmaker.
The editing of Adalynn is top-notch and effective in telling this story. On the other hand, the sound left a lot to be desired. When you have a disembodied voice as a main feature of the thrills, it’s not enough just to add it like a voiceover track. You’ve got to play with that track and treat it like a spirit floating around the room. Certainly, attempts were made to do this with the fake baby and the sound, but the final result was not enough to feel authentic.
Yes, Adalynn is not perfect, and its flaws are noticeable. Yet, if you can set aside Adalynn‘s low-budget flaws, the film stands firm on a solid story and a great performance from its lead, Sydney Carvill. You’re certainly in for a fun ride in this psychological thriller.
Adalynn will be available on March 28 on digital and DVD.