'The Child Remains' creator Michael Melski believes the Butter Box babies were with him while he filmed their story

The film is based on the infamous tale of the Ideal Maternity Home of Nova Scotia where around 400-600 infants were starved to death in the 1930s.


                            'The Child Remains' creator Michael Melski believes the Butter Box babies were with him while he filmed their story

Michael Melski's 'The Child Remains' is not one of those thrillers that are full of jump scares and ridiculous faces. It's a straight arrow that burns slowly and has a lot to say - and why wouldn't it? The film is based on the infamous tale of the Ideal Maternity Home of Nova Scotia where around 400-600 infants were starved to death in the 1930s. Called the Butter Box Babies because of the way they were disposed of, in wooden boxes that were used to carry dairy, these children were put on a diet of molasses and water and would perish within two weeks.  

Although the full extent of the true horror that went on in that Home was never really understood because of the lack of records, the film has largely remained true to the actual events. And with none of the Butter Box Babies actually being discovered, the task of doing justice to the story would have been even more difficult. From the tiny Butter Box coffins that the babies were said to be buried in, to the way the Home only kept its "adoptable" and "marketable" babies alive to sell, 'The Child Remains' however, does a good job of giving one glimpse of the actual history of the place.

A scene from the film (The Child Remains)

"I read pretty much everything I could find on the internet and the library, I also took a visit to the South Shore of Nova Scotia to talk to some locals about their memories of the Ideal," said Melski in an interview with MEA World Wide. The movie's account of a baby's head being dashed in also came from the actual investigation, he said.

All of the main characters are based on real people who were involved in the case. "The stories come from the survivors of the Ideal Maternity Home who witnessed and experienced it, and an employee of the Ideal has gone on the record and stated that he buried dozens of babies in the woods around the home. The character of Talbot is based on him," he said. As for the protagonist, Rae - she was inspired by renowned author and crime journalist Phonse Jessome. "He has severe PTSD. He actually is a consultant on the film and Suzanne was very inspired by meeting him," he said referring to actor Suzanne Clement, who plays the troubled journalist who happens to stumble on a story. The character of Rae is perhaps one of the greatest gems that this film has - Clement is not just believable as a crime journalist, she is also convincing that her existence is truly driven by her nose for news. 

Allan Hawco and Suzanne Clement as Liam and Rae in the film (The Child Remains)

As for Monica, who plays the innkeeper in the film, she also has an arc that is close to real life. Lila Young, who was the daughter of  William Peach Young and his wife Lila Gladys Young, the owners of Ideal, had attempted to open up the house that they lived in as a country inn, said Melski and that "really catalyzed the whole idea of the movie." Apart from this, the film was shot in Elmsdale and Windsor, Nova Scotia. 

As for the actual hauntings, he says he wouldn't be surprised if it were. "I don't know if it is, but if not, it should be! I think the whole South Shore region is still haunted by the Butterbox Babies in a major way," he said. However, he does mention that he felt that they were with them when they were shooting. "I can tell you that I think they were supporting us. On day 1 shooting Rae discovering the cemetery, a real thunder and lightning storm rolled in which threatened to halt production," he recalled. Running on a tight schedule, they were in trouble. "We were shooting so close to Christmas that even a half-day delay would have killed us with union overtime. Earlier that day, I had arranged for a Priest to bless the set and he said a prayer for the children," he said and unbelievably, the thunderstorm changed course and all was good! 

'The Child Remains' releases in theatres in Los Angeles on June 5.

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