On the principle that three or more films constitute a sub-genre, The Night Sitter confirms that Scary Adventures in Babysitting is now a Thing … following Better Watch Out and The Babysitter, with nods to outliers Babysitter Wanted and House of the Devil. Besides very similar suburban (but isolated), well-appointed home settings and a cheerful level of gore, the SAiB formula extends to plentiful twists as apparently decent people turn out to be deeply weird, bright young character actors clearly delighted to be let loose in the horror genre after making their bones in more Disneyfied hijinx, and the gradual trashing of an ideal home (often decorated for Christmas or Halloween) as a lot of running about gives way to a lot of assault and battery.
Here, perky Amber (Elyse Dufour) falsifies her references to land a gig at a well-appointed, out-of-the-way house owned by widowed Ted Hooper (Joe Walz), a paranormal investigator who hasn’t managed to land a deal for his TV series though he has acquired a collection of cursed artifacts. Amber is supposed to look after Ted’s withdrawn, nervous son Kevin (Jack Champion) – the sort of lad who sketches dark clouds with ‘they’re coming for me’ written in red in the middle — and his date’s dorkier, crasser kid Ronnie (Bailey Campbell) and seems to get on with them reasonably well, despite the expected shenanigans. After Ted and his date Charlotte (Deanna Meske) are out of the way, there’s a certain amount of Bava-influenced green/red-lit creeping about the house, Amber is joined by Martin (J.Benedict Larmore), the wimp who thinks he’s her boyfriend, who tries to talk her out of her big scheme to rob the place so she can get out of a bad situation. The unattended boys foolishly explore the forbidden room of mystic paraphernalia and page through a tome ominously entitled The Three Mothers. Then Amber’s confederate in burglary Rod (Jermaine Rivers) shows up with his terminally dim but good-natured girlfriend Lindsey (Amber Neukum),who has worn kitty ears to play the part of cat burglar. Any plan to loot the place is scuppered by manifestations which follow Kevin getting a paper cut and bleeding on the grimoire, releasing three glowing green lights that proceed to let all hell loose. Vincent (Ben Barlow), a nosy slacker neighbour who lives in a garage, keeps coming over, and happens to have a working amateur knowledge of the occult that turns out to be little use when Lindsey gets possessed and turns into a mad sex-witch out to slaughter everyone in the house.
Written and directed by Abiel Bruhn and John Rocco, this has a fast, funny, sit-com pace –but with cynicism and splatter, like a Goosebumps for late teenagers. Dufour holds it together as slightly more mature, though still ill-intentioned – and, as in most SAiB films does eventually show some professional concern in among the hijinx. Neukum is hilarious as one stereotype transformed into another when loveable, hot idiot Lindsey turns into a cackling, malicious witch out to torment everyone who crosses her path. It’s not deep, but it delivers consistent nasty chuckles.
Here’s the FrightFest listing.
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