J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

The Night Sitter: Old School Horror Comedy


Starting in the 1980s, most horror movies have been set in suburbia (or remote summer camps). That is because if you want to scare people, you have to go where they live. This is not Amber’s neighborhood, but she inadvertently put herself in the profoundly wrong place at the wrong time, when she accepted a baby-sitting gig for larcenous reasons. Much to her own surprise, she will do her best to protect her young charge in Abiel Bruhn & John Rocco’s The Night Sitter, which releases today on VOD.

Ted Hooper is a wealthy collector of occult relics, so you know he has more money than sense. Amber and her accomplices are sure they can plunder plenty from his spacious suburban home, while he is on his date. Heck, they are not even dead set on opening the conspicuously locked trophy room. On the other hand, Ronnie, the obnoxious son of Hooper’s girlfriend (also sleeping over) is curious enough for the entire group. Things will get tough for Ronnie, but it will actually be Hooper’s sensitive son Kevin who gets the fateful papercut on the pages of an infernal book of witches.

The situation soon gets downright Suspirious when the witches known as “The Three Mothers” start terrorizing the occupants of the Hooper house. Amber’s cronies are not much help, but at least Vincent, the Jack Black-like dude living across the street, has some insight into weird supernatural mumbo jumbo. Frankly, they are all pretty easy pickings for the witches, except for the resourceful Amber. Having bonded with Kevin before all the toil and trouble broke out, Amber scrambles to defend him from the literal forces of darkness.

For fans of vintage horror movies, Night Sitter is nostalgic in all the right ways. It mostly keeps its tongue planted in its cheek, but it still serves up plenty of mayhem and a fair amount of gore. Amber would not be out of place in the Scream franchise, but the rest of the characters would be more compatible with Dan O’Bannon’s classic Return of the Living Dead, which is quite august company, among horror comedies.

Elyse Dufour is terrific as Amber, making her the snarkiest, most confident potential final girl in recent memory. She also develops some nice on-screen chemistry with both Jack Champion and Ben Barlow, as Kevin and Vincent, respectively. However, Jermaine Rivers and Amber Neukum steal scene after scene as Rod, Amber’s horndog accomplice and Lindsey, his ditzy, soon-to-be-possessed girlfriend.

Bruhn & Rocco certainly do not reinvent the wheel, but they keep things zippy. Sitter is not as funny as Better Watch Out, an obvious comparison film, but its horror elements are arguably scarier. Regardless, it is all quite a bit of fun. Recommended for old school horror fans, The Night Sitter is now available on VOD platforms.

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