The opening credits to Attack Of The Adult Babies, the latest northern genre film to be helmed by Emmerdale-veteran Dominic Brunt (Before Dawn, Bait), appear in bold red over tracking shots through a large and well-furnished manor house – a house apparently empty until a giggling woman in latex nurse’s outfit is spotted being pursued by a large, middle-aged man wearing only an oversized nappy. If this is a literal enactment of the film’s title, a more metaphorical kind of ‘adult baby’ appears in the following scene.
“I’m 18,” protests Tim (Kurtis Lowe) to his stepdad George (Andrew Dunn), “You can’t just send me to my room.” Yet George insists on treating this young adult as a baby, infantilising him with expressly unwelcome hypocoristic name form ‘Timmy’, and making him play children’s board games with his mother Sandra (Kate Coogan) and stepsister Kim (Mica Proctor). Meanwhile, the adolescent Tim is handling his masturbatory crush on Kim in a not altogether mature manner, and clearly does have some growing up to do. When two incompetent Russian thugs enter this dysfunctional domestic space and order Sandra, Tim and Kim at gunpoint to retrieve a file box from a manor house, the stage is set for these two very different kinds of adult babies to play together.
In the manor – a veritable Northern powerhouse – “some of the most influential men on the planet” are indulging in what at first appears to be paraphilic infantilism, as they dress as babies, drink milk, and have their soiled nappies changed by a staff of young ‘nurses’ under the supervision of Margaret (Sally Dexter) and Clinton (Joanne Mitchell, Brunt’s wife and regular collaborator who came up with this film’s story). Yet as these men’s noses transform, in shades of Orwell, into pigs’ snouts, it becomes clear that there is something beyond the merely perverse to their ritualistic behaviour – and soon Kim and Tim are caught up in a battle against outsized, over-entitled bairns, chainsaw-wielding matrons, and a God of Pooh.
If Brunt’s film sounds puerile, it advertises that very quality in its title. And if its humour is strictly gutter level, it acknowledges its own trash status through a thematic fixation on fetishes and faeces. In other words, Brunt’s approach to his low materials is nothing if not self-aware – and he is also attempting, like a latter-day alchemist, to find nuggets of gold in all that shit, chiefly through absurdist satirical commentary on what really fuels the world’s power elites. Meanwhile, even if the humour is all pretty broad, the film never shies away from wildly shifting its own paradigm, in terms both of form (there is hand-drawn animation, claymation, and even a CG ‘mindscape’ here) and content (as a story of pornophilic parochialism takes on increasingly cosmic proportions). Adult babies in the audience will likely be gurgling with glee.