THE BABYSITTER **** USA 2017 Dir: Greg Klepper. 31 mins
Writer-director Greg Klepper has crafted a suspenseful riff on the babysitter-in-peril sub-genre, echoing the title of Fred Walton’s influential short THE SITTER, itself adapted into the well-liked WHEN A STRANGER CALLS. Klepper may well have been equally inspired by the many modern homages to the latter, including SCREAM, HOUSE OF THE DEVIL and THE BOY.
On meds and recovering from the death of her dad and “a traumatic public episode”, former Yale student Alesandra Assante accepts a $50 an hour job sitting the grandson of the wealthy, grief-stricken Wallace family. Walk and talk suburban scenes between Assante and her slutty friend (Erica Duke Forsyth) ape Carpenter’s Panaglide exposition in HALLOWEEN. The modern setting is curiously balanced with retro references, as rotary phones alternate with smart phones while the teen protagonists’ dialogue name checks Joan Crawford and Rosemary Kennedy. When the kid disappears and a stranger appears to stalk Assante around the house, the tension is ratcheted up nicely, and the black and white prowling camera maximises the grandiose house. Tyler Merrell is a lot of fun as an enjoyably camp, privileged villainess and Justin Burning’s score offers the right combination of nods to Carpenter and evocative suspense beats. The script has an undercurrent of dark wit, with “You little proletarian gutter slut!” the undisputed highlight.
Review by Steven West