The Babysitter (1980)

Article 2490 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-28-2008
Posting Date: 6-6-2008
Directed by Peter Medak
Featuring Patty Duke, William Shatner, Quinn Cummings
Country: USA

A troubled family hires an eighteen-year-old to clean, cook, and look after the twelve-year-old daughter. She begins to exert a sinister influence over the family, subtly driving wedges between the various family members.

The acting is very good and some of the characters are very well drawn in this made-for-TV suspense thriller. Yet, even while admiring these positive qualities during the first half of the film, I found myself less impressed by the overly-familiar formula of the story, in which a psycho worms her way into a family, and those who can see her evil influence can’t convince those who can’t. The most interesting question for me during most of the movie was – Why is she doing this? Unfortunately, this question became less and less intriguing as the movie wore on, and I got tired of watching the psycho manipulate the family, the family falling for it, and the dysfunctional screaming matches that came about as a result. The movie gets harder to swallow as it goes on, as well. It was what the movie tried to do at the end that really lost me, though; by attempting to engender sympathy for the primary villain of the piece at this time, it didn’t manage to tug on my heartstrings (as was obviously intended), but rather, gave me the rather queasy feeling that the movie was trying to have it both ways. All in all, it’s a misfire with some positive elements.



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