Shiva Baby is the word-of-mouth indie hit of 2021

Shiva Baby is this year’s word of mouth indie hit that brings comedy and horror to the frightening experience of large family gatherings.

Danielle (Rachel Sennott) arrives at a shiva (Jewish wake) having missed the actual funeral because of seeing her sugar daddy Max (Danny Deferrari) that morning.

It’s already a stressful situation with various relatives poking and prodding her about her post college plans, weight loss and love life, when Max walks in.

He happens to be a friend of her parents (Polly Draper and Fred Melamed) and is closely followed by his blonde wife Kim (Dianna Agron) and their baby.

Shiva Baby is the word-of-mouth indie hit of 2021

Camera IconFred Melamed and Polly Draper play Danielle's parents. Credit: Supplied

Especially in comparison to her childhood friend and ex-girlfriend Maya (Molly Gordon) who is going to law school, Danielle’s life choices seem particularly dismal.

She is helpless to stop the image she had presented to Max dissipating as she tries to prevent her jealousy, insecurities and defiance boiling over into a full public breakdown.

This is the debut feature from director and writer Emma Seligman, based on the short she made for her college thesis, with a distinct Gen Z tone.

Danielle doesn’t necessarily want marriage, kids and to own three businesses like Kim, but she is jealous of the power that comes with it.

Shiva Baby is the word-of-mouth indie hit of 2021

Camera IconMolly Gordon as Maya and Rachel Sennott as Danielle in Shiva Baby. Credit: Supplied

Seligman has a lot of fun playing with tropes while avoiding full-blown stereotypes, especially with Danielle’s parents who are fully supportive even while concerned with the front they present to their extended family.

A horror-esque score of plucking strings and tight claustrophobic framing in the single location setting ratchets up the tension to a nail biting degree.

An impressively assured debut, Shiva Baby is the indie movie to see in 2021 and like no funeral you’ve ever been to.

Shiva Baby (M)

Director: Emma Seligman

Starring: Rachel Sennott, Molly Gordon, Dianna Agron

Four stars

Now showing

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