Gosh darn, this hurts. I can’t tell you about the most intriguing aspect of BABYSITTER WANTED without ruining its most pleasant surprise. What’s even more painful is that I have to resist using what would be the film’s stronger images to illustrate this post for the same reason. Legitimate, well-thrown curve balls are so rare in horror movies these days that I couldn’t live with myself if I diminished even a fraction of this movie’s novel bite. Nope. I Just won’t do it. Who says I don’t have any scruples? (Put down your hand Aunt John, I thought those left over enchiladas in the fridge where fair game. Time to move on).
I know what you are thinking, “A babysitter in peril movie?… been there, done that,” and you’re absolutely right. In fact, the beginning of BABYSITTER WANTED does just about everything in its power to prove that it has no intention at all of covering new ground. Every cliché is in place: missing college girls, ominous phone calls from a shadowy stranger, even the standard small town feckless police officer makes an appearance in the form of BILL MOSLEY. Half way in, BABYSITTER may not be impressing you with its originality, but you have to admit it certainly does a fine job of imitating its slasher forefathers right down to its butter wouldn’t melt protagonist and its obviously humble budget. Midway in I was far from wowed, but seriously enjoying the cozy vapors of nostalgia.
Once the comfortable, hoary stage is set though, a genuine wild card is hurled. I’m not sure if it’s 100 percent convincing, but the effect is profoundly invigorating nonetheless. Suddenly the stakes are much higher than imagined and the opportunity for a fuzzy outcome deflates triple fold. It’s sort of like thinking you are stepping into a puddle and ending up waist deep in mud. Directors JONAS BARNES and MICHAEL MANASSERI deserve props for patiently allowing things to gel before dropping their hammer. Kudos is also deserved for standing back and allowing some black humor to seep through the cracks once the game board is flipped. This may not be the scariest movie ever made and it does require a bit of the old suspension of disbelief (if you don’t know how to do that… learn), but once things start ticking, it delivers quality suspense at regular intervals and ends up being a lot of fun.
Heading the cast as eighteen-year-old babysitter Angie is the closer to thirty television vet SARAH THOMPSON (7TH HEAVEN, ANGEL) who makes the journey from accommodating good girl to sneering survivalist without missing a beat. An equally impressive performance is given by BRUCE THOMAS, whose acting career began playing “Mini Ash #3” in ARMY OF DARKNESS and who has the chin to prove it. This misleadingly simple, covertly aggressive production is exactly what independent horror should be about. It also makes the case that the slasher genre itself has not even begun to fulfill its full potential. All the genre really needs is filmmakers like these who are not afraid to REALLY shuffle the deck before dealing the cards.
NOTE: Hey, that’s the new Mrs. Voorhees NANA VISITOR playing Angie’s ma!
ALSO: Check out BABYSITTER WANTED‘s official site HERE.