Writers: Abiel Bruhn, John Rocco
Cast: Elyse Dufour, Jack Champion, Bailey Campbell, Joe Walz
Running time: 88mins
What’s the story: Christmas time. Amber (Dufour) is hired to babysit Kevin (Champion), the nervy son of wannabe paranormal TV host Ted (Walz). Along with her friends, Amber plans to rob Ted’s house. But, their plans go awry when three vengeful witches are accidentally summoned.
What’s the verdict: Horror film babysitters typically endure a rough ride to the end credits. If they reach them at all.
The Night Sitter’s Amber, spiritedly played by Elyse Dufour, also must run a gauntlet of mayhem and bloodshed. But, she faces her tormentors with the punk sass of someone who begins the film believing she is the bad guy.
That the true villains are The Three Mothers, malevolent witches affectionately lifted from Dario Argento, who in turn was inspired by Thomas de Quincey, is a clue to how wild The Night Sitter becomes.
Amusing character work, particularly from Joe Walz as Kevin’s comically unfeeling dad, assists a plot moving everyone into position for a ghost train second half. When the supernatural is let loose, following some Book of the Dead style horseplay, The Night Sitter unleashes old school gore as a surprisingly large cast of characters encounter hubble, bubble and plenty of trouble.
No prizes for guessing writer-director team Bruhn and Rocco take inspiration from horror masters Argento, Raimi and Carpenter. Yet they deliver enough wit and style to make this more than another cash-in on 80s nostalgia.
Scotty G. Field’s cinematography captures the gorgeous blue, red and green filtered visuals that marked the movies of those classic directors. Particuarly Suspiria, Argento’s masterpiece that introduced his Three Mothers. In a witty piece of costuming, Amber’s red hair and blue t-shirt makes her a living embodiment of that classic horror lighting design.
Champion is an effectively tremulous lead support as Kevin, with young Treat Williams lookalike Bailey Campbell a great foil as his pain-in-the-arse pal.
Pacing flags with the kids’ subplot in the second half, the film being stronger when Dufour takes the lead. An occasional Walking Dead cast member, Dufour proves she can carry a film and will next be seen in Gift and Blue Wonder.
The Three Mothers are well-realised larger-than-life Creepshow style villains. While the film around them is funny they are played straight, so their moments of malevolence truly “pop”… and snap, and crackle.
Achieved on a Kickstarter funded budget by a crew largely graduating from short films, The Night Sitter is a confident entry into the babysitter horror sub-genre. It would make a great fright night-in with Chris Peckover’s Better Watch Out and McG’s The Babysitter.