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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Babysitter Wanted

The old saying, "Never judge a book by its' cover" should also apply to DVD'S. Based on the title and the lurid image on the cover, I was expecting Babysitter Wanted to be another "mock-buster" by The Asylum, in the vein of When a Stranger Calls. What I got was a weird, wild and unexpectedly scary horror flick. The usual warning about major SPOILERS applies, so if you don't want to read a blog where a guy gives you a detailed play-by-play of a horror film, stop now!!!

SPOILERS IN 3.....2....1......

The first scene shows a girl about to be murdered by an unseen killer. He lays out a series of sharp implements onto a table, then grabs a hammer. Before it strikes the girl's skull, the scene ends. And that's about it for scares until around, ohhh, let's say the 40-minute mark.

It starts out to be a very, verrrrrrry tame movie, so much so that I was worried that maybe I had rented a religion-propaganda film instead of a horror flick. We meet Angie, a cute girl with a wholesome, sunny disposition and a deeply spiritual upbringing. She's going to college, away from home for the first time, and she feels like the proverbial fish out of water. Her roommate seems nice enough, but is a major flake with a rebellious streak, so she doesn't exactly help Angie adjust well to her new surroundings. Also, Angie has other new faces to get used to: Matt, a fellow student who seems interested in her---OR IS HE???; and a mysterious, scarred stalker who wears a hood and some heavy boots. In fact, most of the male characters in the film wear the same boots. For "suspense". Gosh, who could the stalker be?

Anyway, to get some time away from her crazy, nympho roomie, Angie answers an ad looking for a weekend-evening babysitter. The house itself is in a scary, remote location, and Angie's car breaks down on the way there. Luckily, the local hunk, Matt, drives by and offers her a ride to her babysitting job. In fact, he goes a step further, and makes her a human shishkabob....NAHHHH, just messin' with ya. Matt offers to drive her to the house, AND fix her car. Could I be wrong about his intentions? As if that wasn't nice enough, he even offers to pick her up IN her car, after fixing it. Maybe I misjudged you, man. Sorry.

So Angie arrives at the home of Violet and Jim Stanton, a nice-enough couple new to the area themselves. How new? Well, their house isn't even fully built yet, with entire rooms blocked off, ceilings exposed, you name it. Their son, Sam, is a quiet little boy going through a "cowboy" phase. Oh, and he has "special" food that is marked with his name in the fridge. Okay, so he's part Gremlin, gotcha. Don't feed him after midnight.

Okay, let's talk: up to this point, I was ready to give up on this thing. There was a heavy "religious movie" vibe, with all the blandly inoffensive characters and morality dialogue. *YAWN* Even the stalker guy seemed pretty innocuous by this time in the film. What kept me watching? Well, for one thing the film was recommended by my first bona-fide reader, so I woulda felt bad about not finishing it. Also, there were a few familiar faces in the cast...the guy playing Matt was on a scifi-ish show a few years ago, called Kyle XY, and Angie is played by Sarah Thompson, a stunning actress I used to salivate over while watching the TV series Angel; oh, and the cast also features genre favorites Bill (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) Moseley and Nana (Friday the 13th, Star Trek DS9) Visitor in key supporting roles.

Back to the movie: So the parents are going away for 3-4 hours, the kid barely talks, we have a scary bald guy stalking our cute-as-hell babysitter, who has no way to escape thanks to her car trouble. Oh, and when the scary guy isn't calling her, Matt is, to give her updates on her car repair. Now what could possibly make this night any worse?

The kid wakes up, and he decides he's hungry. VERY hungry. Angie fetches one of his food containers and opens it up. It contains diced meat that would disgust even Fear Factor's chefs. She nukes it for about a minute, then serves it to him with a fork. No go. The creepiest kid since Damien Thorn starts picking up chunks of meat with his fingers and chews each piece verrrrrry slowwwwwly. As he's chowing down, Angie gets another phone call from the creep outside. She's had enough. Time to call the local cops.

The cops take down her info, and that's about it. Oh, and Matt calls to let her know the car is fixed...except that he has someone following his car, and his call is abruptly cut off. And the parents call, just to piss her off by calling. Yay. What ELSE could possibly happen?

Well, Scarface manages to get into the house. Sweet. So we have Angie looking for the kid, Scarface looking for Angie, and me looking for the remote. Nah, just kidding. Up to this point it was a little on the slow side, but at least it had some okay suspense. She eventually finds the kid, and manages to let him know that someone has broken in. They sneak around a bit to avoid the intruder, long enough for Angie to get behind the attacker and injure him first.

Okay, so MAAAAAJOR SPOILERS now! This is where the movie goes completely apeshit crazy and wins me over. Angie knocks out the guy, while he's trying to choke Sam, and 2 things happen to change my mind about this movie:

1. The guy's coat falls open, revealing a priest's collar.
2. Sam's cowboy hat falls off, revealing FREAKING HORNS on his head!!!!!

Yup, this went from a Lifetime Sunday Night Movie to The Omen in about a nanosecond. Sam's a devil, and the priest was following Angie around for her safety, not to harm her. And the "meat" Sam was eating? Babysitters. Yup.

Violet and Jim return home, see the priest on the floor, and proceed to finish him off. Apparently, Jim thought they had killed him before, and is surprised to see him in their house. Before Jim knocks Angie unconscious, she sees him bring in the bodies of another girl and Matt. Then she passes out.

When Angie wakes up again, Vi and Jim have tied her down int he barn/garage next to the house. Jim tells her that when they first realized that Sam was the child of The Devil, he and Vi weren't sure of what to do. He rejected every kind of food they gave him, and they were afraid he would eventually starve to death.(and that would be a BAD thing???) They discovered at some point that he craved human flesh and blood. But not just any flesh and blood would do. No, what Sam REALLY finds tasty is the flesh and blood of innocent virgin females. Hey, we have something in common! Neato!

Jim, while telling Angie all of this, is diagramming the other girl's body with a Sharpie marker, like a chart in a butcher shop. He explains to Angie that he doesn't consider himself evil just because he slaughters young woman and feeds them to his demonic offspring. Um, okayyyy. He claims that he tries to make the process as painless as possible for the victim, and demonstrates his idea of mercy with his hammer. He bashes the poor unknown girl's head with the hammer, because she theoretically will be unable to feel pain as she is being cut up. This guy deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

As Angie watches, Jim shoves a hook through the girl's feet, and suspends her upside-down from the ceiling. He then begins to cut her apart, section by section, in painstakingly graphic detail. He rips out her innards, tears apart huge sections of her flesh, saws apart large sections of bone, and comes very close to making me a vegetarian for the rest of my life. Very gory. Awesome.

Before he can start on Angie and Matt, Vi comes in to check on his progress. She yells at Jim for being too nice to his victims, but before either of them can start killing Angie, the cop she called earlier drives up to the house. They quickly wipe the blood off their hands, change out of his bloody clothes, and go outside to greet and get him out of the way before he discovers what they're doing.

Angie grabs something sharp and begins cutting through the bindings on her wrists. She also manages to make some noises through the tape over her mouth. The cop hears her, but Vi and Jim do too, and convince him that it's nothing, so he starts to head back to his vehicle. Luckily for her, Angie is able to emit a muffled scream through her gag that the cop hears. Again he is told that it's nothing, and he does leave this time--but not before his car headlights show a strange car parked on their property. He notes the license plate and calls it in.

Angry over having their little scheme almost unravel, Vi and Jim realize it's time to move on to another city. She heads into the house to pack and fetch her li'l Hellspawn, while Jim goes back to the barn/garage/butcher shop to finish killing Angie. He yells at her for nearly getting them caught and viciously shoves the ceiling-hook deep into her ankle and out the other side of her foot. OW!!

She hasn't been just waiting to die, because now she has cut the wrist-bindings. Her hands free, Angie swings the arm holding the spear that she found on the scarred priest and stabs Jim. She then finds both the priest and Matt: The priest is dead, but Matt has a head wound and is quickly revived. Before escaping with the police chief and Matt, Angie drives the meathook into Jim's foot. but Vi pops up out of the blue to try to kill everyone. When they finally get the upper hand on Vi as well, they try to escape in the police car, but Sam slits the cop's throat and escapes back to the barn.

Angie decides enough is enough(oddly enough, I'm kinda jazzed for more of this weirdness). She follows Sam into the barn, where we are led to believe that she kills him. While attempting to drive away, she passes out. When she wakes up again, she is in a hospital, with Matt, her mother, and a local cop by her bedside. She is told that every corpse was found except Sam's. She grabs Matt's hand as well as her mother's, and insists that they all pray. She starts reciting a "Hail Mary", but the director forgot to yell "Cut!", because she just stops after the first verse and the scene runs a few seconds longer. Nice. You've been attacked by Hellspawn and forgot how to pray?!?

Now that would have been an okay ending, but the movie decides to add some extra bits at the end. We see SOMEONE has been caring for Sam, but we never see their face. Another BABYSITTER WANTED post goes up on another bulletin board. Finally, we see Sam and Matt move in together. Now maybe it's just me, but WTF is this? Did another character find Sam? Did Angie and Matt adopt Sam to start a satanic family? Did the college roommate ever get a new bed? According to Wikipedia, Angie and Matt recovered the priest's weapon to continue to hunt for Sam, but it still looks like it's open to interpretation the way they filmed it. Oh some, lose some.

Despite the Hallmark-card beginning and the weird ending, I liked this one. The gore was pretty gruesome, the lead actress was still cute after not seeing her in much since Angel was cancelled, and the plot twist was pretty nifty. The religious stuff was a bit overdone, but the movie did have some genuine scares, so it didn't feel TOO sanitized. I'd give it 4 killer trees out of 5. I've definitely seen worse religion-disguised-as-horror films than this...Thr3e and The Haunting of Molly Whateverthehellhernamewas(Dodd? Ringwald?) both come to mind. But the gore and surprises in this one won me over, even if it was a bit too much like another recent movie(House of the Devil, which delivers a better tension level and scares, with almost the exact same plot concept...there, I just saved you from having to rent TWO movies! I accept blank checks in lieu of thank you's), and had a slow start. But not too shabby.

So what did I learn after watching Babysitter Wanted?
-Bill Moseley is quickly catching up to Kevin Bacon in the 6 Degrees game. And in general weirdness...
-Again, you can't always judge a DVD by its' title.
-Babysitters are scrum-dilly-umptious!! Gonna get me some babysitters with some fried taters, mmm-hmmm! Seriously, man, she was incredibly cute.

Next up, according to Netflix: Five Across the Eyes. Sounds like the feel-good film of the year. Can't wait.