Babysitter Wanted (2008)
Directed by Jonas Barnes/Michael Manasseri
I got some backlash from my review of The House of the Devil as I basically said it was average at best. It's a slow burn, some decent jump scares and I summed it up by saying it was a reheated frozen dinner.
So what if I had one of those frozen dinners again?
Well this is where Babysitter Wanted comes in. It's got the same premise as Ti West's film. College girl with lousy roommate gets a gig to babysit a couple's young little tyke in the middle of boonies USA. Suspense is drawn out as mysterious phone calls start ringing, she frantically searches for the kid and than the big reveal is well...revealed.
Suffice it to say, if I told you what the curveball was, it might ruin the movie for you. But I'll tell you straight out. It's definitely not what happened in The House of the Devil. But for me, the difference between this flick and the latter is that we don't have to wait an obscene amount of time to get the big reveal.
I will tell you exactly when we get it in this movie. It's at the 48 minute mark. You'd think after everything is revealed it would be down hill from then on. But it doesn't. It actually becomes more cat and mouse fun and has some awesome tension filled moments.
Babysitter Wanted is what I wanted from The House of the Devil. It takes that babysitter urban legend and squeezes every drop of horror onto the screen. If I had to do a switch to my Top 20 list, I'd actually do it. A very solid horror movie that actually lives up to what it was trying to do.
And here's why.
In a small college town, a young girl working on a babysitting job in a rural farm is terrorized throughout the night.
Angie (Sarah Thompson) is a religiously devoted freshman starting her first year in community college. She's got the stoner roommate and is the total country bumpkin. Lacking funds, she rips apart a flyer's number and gets a gig babysitting for the Stantons and their cowboy in training kid Sam.
She soon gets a BF to be and gets various foreshadowing flyers taped to her dorm room door. As the babysitting gig starts off, all is slightly normal. And this is where I have to stop or I'll reveal too much.
Let me just say the moments play out as they do all these other babysitter in peril movies. She walks slowly around the house so the creepy gets into overdrive. The phone starts ringing with incomprehensible speech and the most over used cliched scene in babysitter movies makes an appearance as well where our terrified babysitter is searching for the missing kid around the house and she pulls back a shower curtain.
One time instead of seeing an empty tub I'd like to see the worst thing she has ever seen. Severed heads, body parts, organs and tons of blood and splatter.
But that would be a reveal wouldn't it?
The rest of the movie after the twist is your standard final girl vs the big bad. A few solid splatter and gore scenes are interspersed throughout the struggle and we see the evolution of Angie from good, religious college girl to outright profanity spewing final girl of the year. It's an awesome performance from the hot girl next door Sarah Thompson (she was on Angel and a few other TV shows). Seeing her devotedness go from God to survival was fun to watch.
Also, the movie is effective in its set up shots to get the tension moving. Lots of faraway shots with the killer moving in. Closeups to get the emotional punch and a few twists and turns that were set up by the black darkness of this small little house in the middle of nowhere.
All in all, Babysitter Wanted hits on all these notes and does it without including the 80s nostalgia. Sure, there are various logic holes in the reveal and "the ending" actually has like 3 endings within itself. Directors Barnes and Manasseri make sure that our last shot ends on a note of hope rather than dread.
With these type of films, it's hard to blend the pre reveal with the post reveal within the movie. But Babysitter Wanted does its best and it comes out all right. I love when a film that you watch going in with no expectations blows you away. The feeling is just spontaneous happy, sorta like winning an auction on eBay.
This urban legend that's spawned countless movies still keeps chugging along. Let's hope they're all like Babysitter Wanted.
Achilles heel trauma
Various splatter and gore
Nada. But Sarah Thompson looks particularly yummy in a very tight sweater
THE BIG REVEAL!
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
If you didn't like The House of the Devil or thought it was just "eh", well than try another of these reheated frozen dinners. This one is like a Hungry Man frozen dinner. It's packed with meaty morsels, some peas and carrots and some solid dessert.
Sure it looks like When a Stranger Calls and even Halloween, but its one of the best 25 horror movies to come out last year. For me, this is one of the best babysitter in peril movies ever.
Now rip off the flyer's phone number and dial this one up.
Here is the link to the official site.
Check out the trailer below.