Buried in the Past
To many Lila Young (Susan Clark) and her husband William (Peter MacNeill) are good people, devout Christians who take in unwed pregnant women to deliver their babies and find the unwanted children new homes. But not everyone is happy about Lila's unofficial maternity hospital and the husband and wife find themselves under scrutiny from the medical authorities. But behind the scenes things are very different as not only do they charge the young women to come and stay there to have their babies they then charge parents even more to adopt unwanted babies. And those babies which are not wanted by perspective parents are placed with the sick children so that they die young and are unceremoniously buried in butter boxes with no record of their birth or death.
Some times separating emotion from logic is a hard thing to do when watching movies, some times a movie can tell such a powerful and troubling story that it leaves a huge impact on you. "Butterbox Babies" is one such movie because it is based on the true story of a husband and wife who capitalized on unwed expectant women and did some incredibly disturbing things. These disturbing things range from burying babies in Butterboxes, being more concerned for a baby than its mother because of its profit potential and a whole list of despicable acts whilst all the time saying they were doing God's work. I won't go in to detail as it is the despicable detail which keeps you watching but will say the disturbing nature of the true story does have an effect on you.
The thing is that when you separate how this movie makes you feel and the way the movie works all I can say is that whilst solid it isn't great. It suffers from trying to cram too much in and therefore not only having to rush things but also being episodic, jumping from one aspect to the next especially earlier on. It makes "Butterbox Babies" one of those movies which leads you to seek out more information on the subject to fill in the gaps which the movie leaves behind and that is when it becomes even more hard hitting. It is a shame as Susan Clark delivers a powerful performance making Lila Young a fearsome but fascinating woman who you are not sure whether she was delusional or simply greedy and a clever manipulator.
What this all boils down to is that "Butterbox Babies" will have an impact on you because it does tell a disturbing true story but it is one of those movies which whilst good works more because of the true story's disturbing nature rather than for the movie's production which is good but not great.