JBB Featured Film Reviewer

Ben Nagy reviews ‘The Night Sitter’: Shady Baby Sitter and Co. Run Afoul of Child-Killin Witches

We've got another baby sitter in peril in The Night Sitter. But this one's different because she's being menaced by witches, is kind of a criminal and runs around with the wrong crowd. Call her the anti-Jamie Lee Curtis.

You really have to ask yourself, is there a worse profession to have if you’re a horror movie character?

I’m wondering if there is a suckier profession for a character in a horror movie beyond baby-sitting and it’s really hard to come up with one.

The kids in horror flicks are either experts in tormenting the people who are watching them or dumb as a box of rocks. The baby sitter (usually female) has a boyfriend who is either oversexed or a royal jerkola. The pet of the family that the sitter is employed by usually has irritable bowel syndrome and gets itself lodged into the nearest cabinet. The homeowners don’t pay enough, live in a dangerous neighborhood and the house usually has electrical problems and either one or both of them send off creepy vibes.

Of course, this is all before you take into account the heavy-breathing masked maniac with a penchant for impaling sensitive parts with sharp things lurking a couple of blocks away or the nearby portal to Hell spewing demonic menace nearby.

From Jamie Lee to Carol Kane in When a Stranger Calls, us Mutants know that sitting ain’t easy.

Welp, this week’s flick is yet another in the never-ending saga of sitter-in-peril. The Night Sitter is not to be confused with the flick I reviewed a couple of weeks ago, which was just The Sitter and dealt with a college student watching a cat who runs afoul of Satanists.

But rather than watching a cat, the sitter in this one is named Amber (Elyse DuFour) and she’s watching a couple pre-teen boys while a widower goes out on a date with a single mom.

The dating dude, Ted Hooper (Joe Walz), is a paranormal investigator pimping out a pilot show and who has a collection of occult junk, including the obligatory blood-absorbing evil witch-summoning book, that’s locked in his office.

But this Amber he hires is not an honest sitter. She cases the house after Ted goes out on his date, then calls up a group of friends to bring a truck so she can steal the TV, some artifacts and whatever else isn’t nailed down. She snags a wad of cash and tries to convince Kevin (Ted’s middle-school-aged son who’s tormented by visions of dark figures and draws em just because he can) that she’s robbing his dad for altruistic reasons.

Amber (Elyse DuFour) and Kevin (Jack Champion) get the Karo syrup treatment by the time “The Night Sitter” wraps up its running time.

Your prototypical Final Girl she is not.

Amber’s crew arrives and includes Martin (J. Benedict Larmore) who’s her “boyfriend” that she’s not into, a coke-fueled maniac named Rod (Jermaine Rivers) and Rod’s equally coke-fueled girlfriend Lindsey (Amber Neukum). They start taking stuff, but, oops, by the way, the two boys have already broken into Hooper’s office with its occult stockpile and have summoned these legendary child-killing witches who wear hoods and like letting the blood by bleeding on the previously mentioned evil book.

The old knife-through-the-back-of-the-head-coming-out-the-mouth gag pioneered by Big Lucy — aka Lucio Fulci — in The House By the Cemetery as done in The Night Sitter. Often imitated and duplicated.

If you’re a fan of vintage Italian horror, you’ll like finding the references to stuff from Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci. It also has a throwback synth score and the Creepshow/Suspiria primary-color lighting scheme adding to the supernatural ambience. The supporting cast all have their moments even though they all pretty much behave like they have the survival instincts of a bowl of soggy shredded wheat. Needless to say, once the blood starts flowin, it doesn’t really stop until the end.

And thusly …

Hey, it’s Vincent (Ben Barlow) — he always has time for a friendly wave, knows a lot about witches and lives in an impressively lit garage.
  • Best Neighbor Up to a Point: Vincent, the bearded know-it-all student of the occult played by Ben Barlow, waves at Amber a lot from his cosmic-looking garage lair and says stuff like “Indomidaebrachtusmona;” “They’re witches, they have to play by the rules;” and “I live in a garage, so deal with it.” Unfortunately for him, he chokes when the chips are down and ends up paying for it at the talons of the witches.
  • Best Boyfriend Material: Martin, who has been associated with Amber for two months, even though she’s not that into him, says stuff like, “You’re my girlfriend and I’m committed to helping you get out of this dark place,” and “Relationships are built on communication.” He gets to see a witch’s garbonzas (the only two in the flick) before she turns ugly while wandering around outside and then gets his gourd pulped later.
  • Best Approximation of a Hustler: Rod, provider of the box truck, has sex with his girlfriend Lindsey even when she’s demonically possessed by a necklace and survives the experience. He says stuff like, “Discretion is my motherf——g jam,” and “My s— is laser-guided,” and then his right hand gets turned into finger food. Pun intended.
  • Best Way to Solve That Hair-styling Problem: Charlotte (Deanna Meske), who was Hooper’s date, gets scalped as her night cap. There’s also a pun in there somewhere, but I’m tearing my hair out trying to figure out what it is. Best not flip my wig.
  • Best-Laid Plans of Ted: He wanted his occult stash found and the three witches summoned, he tells Amber, so he could have an actual paranormal experience to pitch for his show. His solution then is to dress up in a suit of armor, grab a sword and try to confront the witches in the basement before they sacrifice his son at midnight. He didn’t really think this one through very well.
  • Best Left for a Sequel: The family dog might have been possessed by the witches, too. That might be left for the survivors to figure out.

Two and a half stars.

Check The Night Sitter out on DVD or BluRay or streaming on TubiTV and elsewhere.

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