Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Sitter That Rocks the Cradle

What can I say? I'm an easy sell.

Quick Plot: Attractive college graduate Abby takes a job as a live-in babysitter* to the Eastmans, an upper middle class with a working PR mom (played by Lifetime vet Gail O’Grady), struggling lawyer dad, sweet daughter and sullen son. Before you can say Julianne Moore dead in a greenhouse, Abby is slashing through nosy neighbors who threaten her odds at becoming the new Mrs. Eastman.

Save for an Ernie Hudson stand-in and cry wolf molestation subplot, The Sitter (aka While the Children Sleep) is essentially The Hand That Rocks the Cradle for a 21st century Lifetime audience. 
How Hand Rocks the Cradle is it, you ask? There’s a hard-edged best friend whose face meets a plastic bag JUST as she’s about to warn the family about its ne’er do well nanny. A close-knit friendship that makes you wonder if the eldest daughter will indeed choose Abby over her mother. Just enough paranoia on Mrs. Eastman’s part to cause a minor marriage rift. Heck, there’s even a subtle Fatal Attraction throwback when Abby threatens to skin a school bully like a rabbit. 

As you do when aiming for Babysitter of the Year.
There’s virtually nothing original about The Sitter, directed by Russell Highlander Mulcahy. It’s the kind of film that insists on underscoring 80% of its runtime with ominous instrumental music, so that when what should be a perfectly innocent conversation with Abby and her charge occurs, all we hear is eviiiiiiiiil musical cues to ensure we KNOW not to trust this seemingly friendly young woman. 

The camera and soundtrack work extra hard to inform us that Mariana Klaveno’s Abby is a baaaaad girl, so much so that by the time she’s standing in the pouring rain and replaying conversations in her head and waving a shovel over a lecherous lawyer’s face, we’re ready to rock...

the cradle.
High Points
For a Lifetime original, The Sitter offers a surprising amount of violence via everything from knife to ax to shovel to stairs

Low Points
If you watched this year’s Halloween episode of the It Better Be Renewed Community, then you might have chuckled at Abed’s insistence that hearing a relevant news broadcast at the exact moment of turning on the radio is unbelievable. Well, so is turning the TV on in the middle of a conversation about your missing friend only to IMMEDIATELY notice that hey, doesn’t that car on the newscast look like the car of your missing friend?
Lessons Learned
Multiplication tables suck

Everybody loves free booze
Before spilling family secrets or discussing the suspiciousness of your new babysitter, you might want to take notice of the fact that your bedroom wall--which of course, separates you from babysitter in question--is thinner than Lara Flynn Boyle after mono

Taking a bath when cast in a horror film is one of the dumbest things a woman can do
The Sitter is streaming on Netflix, and while it’s not particularly good, it’s competent and trashy enough to serve as a solid 90 minute time waster. It’s a little meaner than what you’d expect from Lifetime and as a result, more fun than a rerun of The Nanny.

*Is the fact that The Nanny such a big hit on Lifetime reason enough for nobody in The Sitter to ever refer to the live-in babysitter as, you know, a nanny?


  1. I'll SIT this one out...

    why is lifetime making movies about murderous babysitters?

  2. Ow, just looking at that picture of Fran Drescher is enough to peirce my eardums!

    You've mentioned a movie a few times called Rappin' with Mario Van Peebles. Does Van Peebles overact as much as he does in Highlander III? I've only just seen it, and he is amazingly hilarious!

  3. TD: Lifetime 'thrillers' are all about tapping into the deepest fears of women, i.e., having your man and child stolen by someone more attractive than you. I have nightmares of younger, skinnier, better skinned dopplegangers slipping into my life and charming away my cats all the time!

    Chris: I will say anything to make you watch Rappin'. You want Van Peebles to be overracting? Then yes. You want him understated? Then yeah, that's it. Whatever it takes to get you to watch it, it's beyond wonderful (even if Peebles rapping skills are embarrassing). Plus, you get Eriq LaSalle rapping! And Joan Crawford's assistant from Mommie Dearest/the mom from Amityville 2! JUST WATCH IT!!!

  4. Russ Mulcahy should have put a blasting Queen soundtrack over the whole thing. Imagine the babysitter being introduced to the tune of Fat Bottomed Girls! Also, it sounds like it needed a lot more katanas.

  5. I think I saw parts of this changing channels. Have you seen THE BABYSITTER (1982 I think), where Patty Duke and William Shatner are a couple who get drunk and yell at each other, and their marriage is slowly torn apart (well, more torn apart) by an enigmatic babysitter? Pretty good stuff. I actually have the novel that the movie is based on but I haven't read it. I guess I like to collect books and not read them.

    The one problem with RAPPIN is that Van Peebles is the worst rapper of all time. It is not even possible to rap worse than Mario Van Peebles, even if you tried. It's like if the star of LAMBADA THE FORBIDDEN DANCE had two broken legs.

  6. But the babysitter is, not surprisingly, a lil twig without a bottom! The song would have been misleading!

    Thomas, Van Peebles' (lack of) rapping skills is hardly a "problem." If anything, it enhances the experience!

    I've never heard of that Babysitter (I know there was another one in the '90s based on a short story I read with a London brother and Alicia Silverstone) but the cast in itself is intriguing..

  7. This reminds me of the movie with Lisa Zane - Can't remember if it was Lifetime or not. Pretty damn close though.

  8. I didn't know Lisa Zane did anything other than Freddy's Dead or be Billy's sister! Must investigate...