Sunday, March 2, 2014

Movie Review - Babysitter Massacre

            Death by shears, hatchet, straight razor, scissors, bare hands, scalding water, mace and a hammer.  This film delivers everything that was great about the 80’s slasher genre that fans have been missing for twenty years.  From the opening shot, we realize how intense this film is going to be and it does not fail to deliver on this promise.  This film is an incredible homage to the ‘80’s slasher film.  Henrique Couto has stated that his inspiration was films such as Slumber Party Massacre 2 and it shows throughout the film.

            Throughout the entire movie, Couto strives for and achieves a simple yet effective story.   The premise would fit in alongside many other greats in your local video store (if such a thing still existed).  In Ray Falls, Ohio on Halloween night someone is torturing and killing young women one by one, the only thing they all have in common is they belonged to the same babysitter club in high school... Who could be doing this, and can anyone stop them?   Even with such a basic and similar story to so many other horror films of yesteryear, Couto manages to make his film stand out and shine unique.

Couto provides us with a rollercoaster of intensifying and easing tension knowing just when to pull back only to hit us all that much harder on the next thrill.  Every aspect of the movie works together to accomplish this success.  The music varies in intensity and tone to fit the scene.  It accompanies the film well and never overshadows the action, but instead accentuates it.  Couto’s writing clearly shows that he understands a basic truth of humanity that many writers miss:  even those who live in a state of emotional torture stemming from a past trauma can experience moments of normalcy and even levity. 

The acting is amazing, and is even more impressive considering that the cast was composed of all local talent.  Erin Ryan provides her usual outstanding performance.  Her home town beauty fits the role well.  Her sweet nature shines through in her character to create someone we really care about.  Her emotion always seems genuine and appropriate for the situation and fits well with Couto’s excellent writing.  Marylee Obsborne is a great lead.  At various times she shows sorrow, hope, anger, frustration, and pure rage like a seasoned professional.  Geoff Burkman looks haunted from the moment he appears on camera and give a heartfelt delivery of lines without going over the top, something that many independent actors often do.  Tara Clark and Joni Durian are great counters balances to each other.  Clark is catty and self-absorbed while Durian displays an innocent and unsure role that really shines when the time is right.  Clark and Durian are only one example of an instance where balance creates something great in this film.

The special effects and make-up work are basic, but chilling and cringe-worthy.  We see blood flow in copious amounts, slices that make you want to close your eyes, and even nails being pulled off one by one.  The effects and make-up are sound without going over the top or attempting things which would not have been believable given the budget.  The white mask and fatigue jacket worn by the killer was so simple, yet still chilling.  While Couto used his talent to bring us back to the lost era of 80’s horror, he also moves past some of the shortfalls of the genre.

Couto follows the 80’s formula of blood and breasts, but he does so with the realization that you don’t have to be a supermodel to be nude on the screen.  Women of all sizes and statures undress for the camera and I think the film is actually stronger for it.  Not only have that, but the actions of the characters moved past those of the older films.  We actually see a character try to run straight for the front door when they realize something is going on.  It doesn’t help them, but at least they make the effort!

This leads me to my final points which actually serves as somewhat of a commentary on horror movies in general.  I have seen a lot of critiques, including relating directly to Babysitter Massacre, about two key areas.  The first is the choices and actions of the characters.  “Why would they do that?” we scream at the screen.  “You’ve got to be kidding me, I would never do that!”  I personally like to give the character the benefit of the doubt as long as it fits with their character.  If there is any shortfall in Babysitter Massacre that is it.  There will be a few moments when you want to critique what seems the illogical actions of the characters.  I would argue that this is not truly a short coming of the film.  What it represents is a failure on our part to realize that we don’t know what we would do if we were put in that situation.  Obviously, the majority of the characters will have their actions lead to them dying, that is why we are watching the movie, for the frequent and intense deaths.

The second critique is often the lack of depth of some of the secondary characters.  Slasher horror has to follow a simple formula and it really comes down to basic math.  If you have an 80-90 minute movie, you can only fit in so much during your screen time.  If you want a high body count, as Babysitter Massacre did a great job in providing, you have to sacrifice some other elements.  A high number of creative deaths is going to result in less time spent getting to know the characters before they die.  This is fine with the secondary characters.  As stated earlier, Couto and his cast do a great job of breathing life into the primary characters, the rest are slasher fodder.  While I would have liked to see a more definitive link between the victims, I think it is an excusable issue given the high entertainment value provided by the number of victims that Couto serves up.

If you are still not sure if Babysitter Massacre is for you, I have provided a simple flow chart, followed by my overall breakdown of the movie by the numbers.
On a scale of 1 - 5, I see the breakdown of this movie as follows:

 Acting - 5/5

 Story - 4/5

 Effects - 4/5

 Camera Work/Production Skill - 5/5

 Overall Entertainment Value - 5/5


Where do I watch/buy this, you ask?  Check out one of the following links:



1 comment:

  1. Love the flow chart! "Why do you watch horror movies?" Lol