Listen Carefully


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Listen Carefully
"This would require serious work from any actor, and Barton-Grimley is not up to the task, with even his parental terror failing to convince."

To be responsible for a baby is to know a special kind of fear. One can run from it, trying to hand off that responsibility to someone else, but that doesn’t mean it will go away. When bank manager Andy (writer/director Ryan Barton-Grimley) hides away at work, exhausted as he is, dreams follow him. Dreams of adults wearing baby masks and making baby noises, chasing him down the street.

There’s a lot here that everyone who has experienced that responsibility will relate to. There’s also a really good hook for a thriller. Sadly, Barton-Grimley, who badly needed another set of eyes on the script and a more assertive editor, has failed to fully capitalise on either. Having invoked the dream scenario early on, he struggles to recover any real tension, and if the film ends up scaring you, it will be purely because of the baggage you take in with you.

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Andy’s partner, who seems to have been doing the bulk of the caring, is also in need of a break. She’s going for a night out with friends, leaving him in sole charge of the baby. It’s then, of course, that things go wrong. When little Abby mysteriously disappears from her cot, all that’s left is the sound of her crying over the baby monitor, and a stranger’s voice giving him instructions. The task is simple: use his professional position to acquire a large sum of money and deposit it where the kidnappers can pick it up, or he will never see his daughter again.

If you’re familiar with baby monitors, it won’t take you long to figure out that something odd is going on here. In due course a character will explain it. The complexities of embezzling from a bank are separately addressed, giving Andy a little more depth as a character, which is all the more important because he spends a lot of his time alone except for the voice. This would require serious work from any actor, and Barton-Grimley is not up to the task, with even his parental terror failing to convince. He’s okay as director, and has a few interesting ideas, but the film never really comes together.

Listen Carefully screened as part of Fantaspoa 2024, and one hopes that this will have given Barton-Grimley a chance to network and develop his ideas. This film feels like a rough cut, falling well short of its potential.

Reviewed on: 05 May 2024
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Listen Carefully packshot
When troubled assistant bank manager Andy McNeary's baby daughter goes missing, he must follow the instructions of a mysterious voice on the other end of a baby monitor to save her before she disappears forever.

Director: Ryan Barton-Grimley

Writer: Ryan Barton-Grimley

Starring: Ryan Barton-Grimley, Ari Schneider, Simone Barton-Grimley

Year: 2024

Country: US


Fantaspoa 2024

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