Friday, March 27, 2009



Classic horror films seem to be a thing of the past. There was a time when a horror movie meant nerve-wracking suspense and a dose of the preternatural. What has happened over time is a palette swap of the transcendent for violence and gore.

When I first saw the trailer for BABYSITTER WANTED, I thought I saw a glimmer of the old-school. I thought I saw a lot of suspense and possibly some sort of spiritual/metaphysical trip. I was excited about the concept. I thought I had found an independent, minimal budget film that would deliver good, classic entertainment. Despite its old-school tease, this film turns out to be just another round of the torture-porn that is all too prevalent.

It is too bad that today's R-Rated horror films sacrifice opportunities for plot and character development in favor of over the top gore. It is beginning to seem that the PG-13 horror films of today deliver a much more cerebral experience than their R-Rated counterparts. Apparently, the R-Rated crowd needs blood, and lots of it.

BABYSITTER WANTED feels like it wants to bring the supernatural, but it clogs up in its own presentation of gore, splatter and torture.

The story is pretty simple, and I am going to spoil a part of it for you because this is a film that hasn't really earned my respect. Sarah Thompson plays Angie, a hardcore Catholic kid who moves to a different town to go to community college. Loose ends abound as she moves in with her sleazy, dope-addled roommate. To top it off, Angie feels that someone is stalking her. The camera-work is heavy-handed, and yes indeed, Angie is being followed by some scarred up man who likes to prank call people and break into houses.

The mystery of the plot is held from the viewer as long as possible, and when it is revealed, the real horror potential is so great that failure doesn't seem possible. But there is a critical failure, and it is coupled with some extremely bad line delivery and shoddy effects.

Angie takes a job babysitting at a farmhouse outside of the city limits. The boy in need of a sitter seems a little odd, and the parents seem a little too nice. Angie is going through the babysitter motions, and then the crank calls begin. As she gets more and more creeped out, Sam, the kid who she is babysitting gets weirder and weirder. When the scarfaced, bald-headed guy breaks into the house and is dispatched in such a way that his priest collar is revealed, the DAMIEN OMEN/ ROSEMARY'S BABY aspect of the film becomes apparent.

It is unfortunate that compared to that in BABYSITTER WANTED, the cornball revelation of demon spawn at the beginning of HELLBOY takes on CITIZEN KANE proportions. It is also unfortunate that Angie has a running dialogue with herself in order to keep the viewer up to speed with what is happening and makes every inept move a person can make in a horror film.

The biggest sin here is that Angie isn't fully realized as a character. In the beginning, Angie moves a bong off of her roommate's coffee table so she can light a votive candle and say a Hail Mary or two. But by the end of the movie, she is dropping f-bombs and acting out levels of vengeance that would make a hardened sinner shudder. What's missing is that Angie never truly has her Catholic moment of revelation in regards to the satanic nature of her situation. It could be argued that she doesn't have the time to because she is too busy witnessing the chopping of human flesh and sidestepping her own slaughter, but it is a missed opportunity.

The end of the film is wide open for a sequel, and the ambiguity that is presented is unforgivable. BABYSITTER WANTED is a gruesome little splatterific film. A solid rewrite with a focus on the religious collapse that is presented could have saved this from becoming the mean-spirited waste of time that it is.

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