The Babysitter (1980) **
D: Peter Medak
C: Patty Duke, William Shatner, Quinn Cummings, David Wallace, Stepanie Zimbalist, John Houseman
Plot Synopsis: Nanny / housekeeper seems like a dream come true at first, but her psychotic colors start to show as she begins to cause the family she works for to become unraveled.
REVIEW: One year earlier in When A Stranger Calls, the urban legend of the babysitter being stalked on the telephone by an unknown maniac was fully realized. Now, with The Babysitter, the roles are reversed. What if the babysitter was the crazy one?
It's a decent concept that's never fully realized. There are some effective scenes showing the crumbling state of mind of the film's title character (who by the way is not really a babysitter, but a nanny). However, the film makes the fatal flaw of focusing on the family that employs The Babysitter and on that family's struggles.
In my guesstimation, a lot of writers grow up believing that the main characters have to be the protagonist. That's simply not true. If you're writing something and one of the other characters starts to become far more interesting then the others, why not rewrite the material to make that character the primary focus instead, even if they happen to be the antagonist? Getting to know a troubled character, even if that character has done terrible things, is always far more worthwhile then to pursue a story with characters who really don't amount to much. Stephanie Zimbalist takes her underwritten role of The Babysitter and makes the most of it.
The person behind the camera of The Babysitter happens to be Peter Medak. This is the same director who brought us the horror classic The Changeling one year earlier. Like The Changeling, this film has some some striking imagery and some eerie scenes as well. It's a shame that with an above average cast & director at the helm, that an unsure & unfocused script brings this down single handily. [Not Rated] 90 mins.
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