SEPTEMBER 26, 2010
It's bad enough that we have trailers or horror website/magazine articles that contain major spoilers for the film you're about to see, but Babysitter Wanted goes above and beyond, giving a major twist away on the goddamn DVD front image! That other stuff you can avoid (as I did; the film was recommended by HMAD reader Emily C but otherwise I had no knowledge of its existence), but how can you avoid seeing the DVD itself? Come on folks, put a little thought into your work.
Luckily, you'd have to be kind of dumb to not see the twist coming. I won't spoil it (however, I will say that there's a missing genre tag), but within the first reel they pretty much flat out tell you who the film's real villain is. Hell, the first scene gives away the back-story right off the bat - it really should have been deleted from the final cut. It's also somewhat spoiled by the mere existence of another film: House of the Devil. This one was shot first, but unfortunately released later, so there is a sense of deja vu to the proceedings that would have effected the other film had they been released "in order". Both films concern a girl (one with roommate issues no less) who takes on a babysitter job in a remote part of the area, and ends up fighting for her life against Satanic types.
The key difference, of course, is that something happens before the 70 minute mark in this one. Even if the twists were obvious, the film admirably shifts gears several times without ever feeling jarring. The pacing can be a little awkward (a little too much of our heroine being tied up and threatened with death - sorry, the telegraphing on this movie was too simple-minded for me to believe that you have the balls to pull a Psycho), but it's rarely boring.
There is one successful surprise, however, and of course I'm going to spoil it (sorry). Bill Moseley pops up as a sheriff who doesn't really believe the main girl's stories about disappearing roommates and strange sounds. But since it's Moseley, I just assumed he was trying to cover the fact that he was in on it too. But no! He's actually a good guy for a change, coming to the rescue in the climax and such. It's a nice change of pace, and I hope he gets a few more hero/sympathetic roles soon.
Another nice surprise was that the film was shot on actual film. Ironically, it was supposed to be HD, but the Panasonic company they were working with screwed up, and they ended up getting the 35mm for the same price, apparently. It's kind of sad that this is the sort of thing that has to be considered a "nice surprise", though.
I have a note that says either Batman or Pulman. Either way I don't know what it's referring to. I also wrote LSD, but that is not what you think. It actually stands for Language, Sex, and Drugs, which is what the MPAA rating (of R) is for. Which is odd, because it doesn't mention the violence, of which there is plenty in the film. Stabbings, torture, shovels to the head... not sure how it didn't get an R for its violence alone.
Then again, the filmmakers seem to have forgotten about the violence as well, as they note minor things as what got them the R rating (couldn't tell if they were joking or not, but they seemingly wanted a PG-13). Their commentary is pretty annoying though, as the three participants frequently talk over each other, and the audio levels are all over the place - one guy is too loud, the other two are too low (and the film itself isn't turned down, so dialogue/music will drown out the person commenting). Then again, I guess expecting decent audio would be silly, considering that the Blu-ray has 2.0 and 5.1 options, but only 2.0 works. They also didn't bother allowing the use of the pop-up menu, and the video transfer is suspiciously lo-fi, so if you're in the market for this movie, I urge you not to spend the extra money on the Blu-ray.
The other extras are decent; mostly just interviews with the cast and crew, some annoying "viral" ads that are just quick bits from the film accompanied by text (I don't think they know what a viral campaign is), and a "Never before seen trailer", whatever that means (the "seen" trailer is also included). Oh and a music video, but I skipped it, since I couldn't recall a single song in the movie as being memorable.
So if you haven't seen House of the Devil yet, and prefer a little more action in your horror movies, this would be the one to go with. House is definitely a more accomplished and suspenseful film, however - the obvious telegraphing in this one really hurt it in those departments. Good try though.
What say you?