Young catholic Angie Albright (Sarah Thompson) has just left her home town and her mother (Nana Visitor in a tiny cameo) to study art history in a decidedly unglamorous city quite some ways away. There’s obviously a degree of culture shock involved for Angie. However, culture shock just might not be the only reason for the fact that ever since she’s left home she feels as if somebody is watching her, stalking her – at least, the audience sees the shadow of a large man (Monty Bane) lurking around her, and we’re not watching Haute Tension.
Because she’s poor, Angie has to take up work basically the moment she
arrives in town. A babysitting gig somewhere in the rural outskirts is just the
ticket. And whatever could go wrong when babysitting Sam (Kai Caster), the
little son of Violet (Kristen Dalton) and Jim Stanton (Bruce Thomas)? Well, for
one, someone might just decide to upgrade from stalking to something more
dangerous. But there are also other, more unexpected directions from where death
might strike at our heroine.
Jonas Barnes’s and Michael Manasseri’s Babysitter Wanted is a rather
ideal Halloween kind of horror movie, with a plot that seems inspired by urban
legends and creepypasta – or in the very least shows the same spirit. So this
isn’t the deep and thoughtful kind of horror but the sort of thing that mostly
wants to create a fun thrill ride of a time for its audience. It does so
exceedingly well, too, which is of course the most important point when taking
this approach to horror. You don’t want to end up with a film that wants to be
fun but doesn’t deliver – unlike with films that aim for depth, there’s no
“interesting” for a thrill ride that doesn’t work.
Not being a deep film doesn’t mean it’s a stupid one, though – the directing
duo has put quite a bit of love and care into the look and feel of things.
There’s a late 70s/early 80s (that is, before neon colours) look to the film,
with the appropriate muted yet present colours (unlike the more typical 2008
look of colours so muted a film is nearly colourless) that to my eyes tend to
give a film a gritty and real feel. The editing is as tight as it should be in a
film effectively using many a traditional trick of suspense and thriller cinema,
and the directors build tension quickly and well.
I also found myself very much enjoying the film’s two-third twist. It’s not
exactly surprising (except for Angie who doesn’t know she’s in a horror film)
but the film handles it and the following scenes with such a disarming sense of
sardonic and macabre humour, the twist becomes fun instead of trite. The twist
also inspires Bruce Thomas to a performance that finds the sweet spot between
the funny and the creepy.
All of this turns what could be an exercise in taking an audience to places
it has been before a dozen times and bore it to desperation into a fun, fast,
and clever low budget horror film.