25th Oct2020

Frightfest 2020: ‘Babysitter Must Die’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Riley Scott, Robert Scott Smith, Kristen Marie Jensen, Melina Yeaman, Nathan Stevens, Scarlett Hazen | Written by Julie Auerbach, Kohl Glass, Kevin Tavolaro | Directed by Kohl Glass

Josie Jane (Riley Scott), the young babysitter for a wealthy family, just found the perfect hiding spot for a game of hide-and-seek with the child in her care. Seconds later, the family’s home is invaded by a pack of brutal cultists, hunting down an apocalyptic secret hidden within its walls. They terrorize the family. But they don’t know about Josie… Trapped inside a dark, sprawling, secluded home and confronted with next-level evil, Josie has two choices: Stay hidden and hope to survive the night or strike back from the shadows and defeat the cult. Armed with a handful of useful skills she learned in childhood as a Mustard Scout, Josie fights back against the cult in an attempt to save her charge, if not the entire family…

Home invasion films are as synonymous with the horror genre as slashers these days – taking that “Home Alone” concept to often grisly and terrifying extremes. In recent years there have been some great home invasion horrors: Don’t Breathe, Shut In, Emelie, Hush… The list goes on and on. Babysitter Must Die is another example off such a film; however – even with its serious antagonists, crazy occultists who don’t care for anyone, even themselves – this movie takes things a little less seriously than others of its ilk; feeling much more self-referential than expected.

That less serious tone actually reflects our heroine Josie. She’s a teenager and thus we see the film from a teenage perspective; this is all a game to Josie, which takes the edge of the horror somewhat. But then this film never really aims for scares – it’s more about the thrill of the chase and seeing Josie’s sweet revenge on the group of attackers. Though it’s not like the group of home invaders aren’t terrifying – they barge into the home, brutal style, taking no prisoners and showing no mercy on the family.

But it’s when Josie decides to fight back that the mood lightens. Titles pop up on screen for the various mustard scout badges Josie has earned – as if to show Josie mind working and seeing how she can apply skills she’s learned in the past to the situation now. And then Josie gets into the swing of things, literally. She begins to relish in her actions – turning from slightly awkward, meek babysitter to one-woman killing machine, as if she’s been suppressing rage within to maintain her sweetness and light exterior and this situation has finally let her inner self out. Something which is reflected in the films coda too… Make sure you stick around for that, it definitely hints that a sequel is planned!

Speaking of sequel, what’s seen in the epilogue suggests that the invaders are very much part of something bigger. There’s a definite backstory to the invaders, the reason they break into the home of the family Josie is babysitting for, the reason they were bandages with runic symbols on them… Here’s hoping we get to see what that’s all about and how Josie plans on taking this “cult” down in more movies!

A hell of a lot of fun, Babysitter Must Die doesn’t waste any screen time on extraneous storytelling, keeping the runtime short and the story tight. Couple that with a fantastic heroine in actress Riley Scott and you have the makings of a great film and possible future franchise.

**** 4/5

Babysitter Must Die screened on Friday October 23rd, as part of this months Frightfest Digital Edition.

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