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Babysitter Wanted (2008)

DVD Cover (Big Screen Entertainment Group)
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6.4
 / 10
8 votes
Genres:
Horror, Slasher Film, Supernatural Horror
Directors:
Jonas Barnes Jonas Barnes
Michael Manasseri Michael Manasseri
Starring:
Tina Houtz Tina Houtz
Sarah Thompson Sarah Thompson
Nana Visitor Nana Visitor
Jillian Schmitz Jillian Schmitz
Matt Dallas Matt Dallas
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Review by Chad
Added: June 25, 2010
Well, damn. That's what I caught myself saying midway through Babysitter Wanted, as the film turned out to be nothing like what I had expected. You see, the trailer almost made it out to be a rehash of a certain classic film in the horror genre: young college student takes a babysitting job, starts getting strange phone calls while the child is upstairs asleep, all hell breaks loose. Does this sound familiar? I thought so too, but since I loved the source material so much, I figured that a little reimagining couldn't be all that bad. Those were my thoughts going in, but right there at the aforementioned midway point, I realized that I was dead wrong in that assumption.

Fair warning: I'm not going to reveal what happens midway through the movie, and as a result, you're probably going to believe this to be nothing more than a spiritual remake much like I did. It's not. It definitely shares some similarities with When a Stranger Calls, but in the blink of an eye, a single event occurs that dramatically changes the tone of the film. I'd ruin the movie for you if I told you what happened, so you're just going to have to trust me here.

With that out of the way, the storyline follows eighteen-year-old Angie Albright (Sarah Thompson), a lovely little lass who has just moved away from home to attend college in the next town over. Her almost puritanical religious views do not mesh well with those of her stoner slut roommate, but hey - at least she has a roof over her head, right? She may be broke and living with sin personified, but the Lord works in mysterious ways. Yeah. Anyway, she takes a babysitting job out in the boonies, where she meets parents Violet (Kristen Dalton) and Jim Stanton (Bruce Thomas) and their kid Sam (Kai Caster). The parents seem as normal as can be, and the son - though a bit shy - seems like any other six-year-old kid. Sounds like easy money, until the actual babysitting starts and the bizarre phone calls kick in. I will say no more about the storyline, but again, I would like to remind you that it doesn't play out in the way that you're likely expecting. Oh, watch for a great appearance by Bill Moseley.

There are basically two acts to the film: the first act in which the tension builds until it is so thick that you could cut it with a knife (not unlike When a Stranger Calls and House of the Devil), and the second act where... everything else happens. The first act, in my opinion, is by far the better of the two, and it shows that the boys responsible for this one really know how to get inside their viewer's heads. Even when absolutely nothing is happening on screen, we're still on the edge of our seats, knowing that something could happen at any moment. This is how indie horror should be done.

The second act will either be just as good or an incredible let-down, depending on what you're looking for in a horror movie. I personally enjoyed it, but not near as much as I did the first act. Perhaps I'm revealing too much here, but I will say that it involves the supernatural and somebody's involvement with it. I'll leave the extent of this involvement and the ramifications that it presents to the virgin viewer, but I wouldn't be shocked to see an equal split of "that was pretty damned good" and "that was bullshit" opinions from any given audience. Again, it gets a thumbs up from me since it delivers some great gore along with a decidedly unique take on this type of tale, but you may not be as accepting of this swerve as I was.

I also have to give Sarah Thompson some major credit here, as she really made the character her own. The "doe-eyed babysitter" character is a role that just about any fresh-faced actress can take on with acceptable results, but to actually make this character memorable is an accomplishment. She was able to make us care for her character in a way that few indie actresses (hell, few Hollywood A-list actresses) can, and I have nothing but praise for her. Bill Moseley also turned in a fine performance, although his screen-time is rather limited as it's more than a mere cameo appearance, but it's also far from a starring role. Regardless, I did enjoy the time that he was given.

All of this praise does not come without a complaint, however. The one thing that really drove me batty about the film was the lighting, or more specifically, the lack of it. I understand the idea of having the environment cloaked in darkness to raise the tension levels a bit, but the tension is actually lowered when we can't even see what is going on. There were a handful of scenes where I literally had no idea what had happened until I saw the aftermath: "Alright, I heard a grunt, something happened... oh, he's pulling a knife out of his gut, I guess he got stabbed." That's a vague example, but there are a handful of specific scenes that were truly hurt by the lack of proper lighting, and it's a shame that I have to dock points for something like this in a film that is otherwise a shining example of how indie filmmakers should be presenting their craft.

I do have to dock points for that complaint, but otherwise, Babysitter Wanted is a damned fine film that is destined to be criminally underrated. This is a film that could have pulled some big bucks with a theatrical run, but unfortunately, it was thrown directly on a disc and shipped out to the masses, where it will likely go unseen by the fans who would love it given a little exposure. Don't be one of those sad souls, and make sure that you don't miss out on this one. 8/10.
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Crispy #1: Crispy - added 07/13/2011, 05:24 PM
The ending was kind of lame, but still a good flick.
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