It almost feels like it’s going against the spirit of things putting some words together to describe Babysitter Wanted. For behind the generic horror movie DVD sleeve, and in spite of it bypassing cinema altogether, it’s got more of interest in it than the last four Saw movies put together.
And that’s part of the problem in it getting noticed. Unlike many of its contemporaries in the genre, Babysitter Wanted doesn’t dig out buckets of gore and extreme violence and chuck it at the screen with abandon. It does that old fashioned thing of building up a scenario, adding in some decent characters, and layering things in from there. It also, wisely, casts Sarah Thompson in the lead role of Angie. Thompson is, bluntly, an actress you buy and believe, and putting her at the centre of the film proves to be a very good move.
Credit, too, to the pair of directors (Jonas Barnes and Michael Manasseri), who manage to resist the bulk of the trappings of the genre, and wring much out of their limited budget. One fairly early Scream-a-like sequence (albeit quieter and less showy than Scream) is particularly haunting, with some excellent use of framing for genuinely creepy effect. It’s not what you expect from a straight-to-DVD horror at all.
We’re not going to spoil the plot here, primarily because the film has one that’s worth keeping mum about. But it proves to be a manageable story to tell in its running time and on its resources, and one that’ll generate plenty of conversation afterwards.
Babysitter Wanted isn’t without problems, to be fair. It does have a reliance on some of the conventions of the genre, and there are holes to be picked in it if you particularly want to pick them. But it seems churlish to do so, as this is a horror film that by turns is fun and creepy, and it sits proudly above 95% of what the genre has churned out in the last couple of years. Keep an eye on those involved, too. They actually have an understanding of what a horror movie should, and crucially shouldn’t, be.
As for the extras? Ah, the excitement drops there. There’s a making of, and while it aptly demonstrates just how down to earth the production was (and how young everyone was!), it doesn’t go into particular depths. It’s a little more than straight padding, but not much.
But make no mistake: the film’s the star here, and while you’ll still need a bit of a stomach for it, Babysitter Wanted deserves to be discovered on the DVD shelf. It’s worth a hundred Saw sequels.
The Movie:The Disc: