Bought to us by Independent Entertainment is the 80’s inspired, low-budget slasher film “Babysitter Massacre” directed by Henrique Couto (director of Bleeding Through). The film centers around Angela and her group of friends Lucky, Arlene and Linda, who are all getting ready to head off for college but want to see the year out with a Halloween party. The girls were part of a local group of babysitters years ago, when one of their friends was abducted and murdered by a masked stranger. Little do the group know that the faceless man is coming back for the rest of them. The film stars Erin R. Ryan (Midsummer Nightmares and Skinless), Marylee Osborne, Joni Durian, Tara Clark and Odette Despairr.
The only member of the cast I was familiar with was Erin Ryan, whom I had seen in a couple of Dustin Mills’s pictures. I am always keen to see if a film can capture that nostalgic feel of the 80’s slasher, the question is did Babysitter Massacre succeed??
Let’s start with a few of the technical aspects most of which hit the mark. The framing and steady camera work is something worth mentioning. A lot of these films fail on the filmmaking front and given the fact that this has a very low-budget feel about it the parts that worked really stood out. I’m not sure but I would estimate the budget to be somewhere between $20,000- $100,000. The camera never gets to close to the actors faces and avoids other familiar mistakes like shaky cam and focus issues. The audio is managed very well too, nothing sounds like it was recorded and dubbed later. The only issue I found was when the girls were screaming, the levels varied and therefore caused the sound to peak out, that was a little bit harsh on the eardrums. The look of our faceless killer closely resembles, intentionally or not, that of the mythical “Slender Man” minus his fancy attire. I don’t really have a problem with that because the entire concept for the film isn’t an original one, it was clearly made by fans of the genre, for fans of the genre so why not go all out, I’d expect nothing less.
From the very opening shot we get some pretty sleazy, voyeuristic nudity which continues for majority of the film. Obviously being a guy that doesn’t bother me some of the girls looked pretty good but your film can’t rely so heavily on just one ingredient in the recipe. I liked the fact that these girls were real girls and not what you see on magazine covers. They were nice enough to look at and clearly comfortable being in front of the camera in their underwear etc, the confidence definitely showed. That’s about as far as things showed though…..
Where do I start with the bad? Some people are going to accuse me of being to harsh on a film of this nature and failing to take it for what it is. Yes, I have a standard and some people will question some of the titles I watch but I still know exactly what this is, or should have been. Most slashers are all about the body count, the quality of the kills and the effects, Am I right??. Let’s start with something a little less important here, the story. Now I don’t need a whole lot of plot details when it comes to a fun slasher film but I need some. Broken friendships and a crazy but non threatening killer is not even close to enough. During one of the countless pointless and annoying conversations poorly disguised as filler, the girls seem totally uncomfortable with each other. There is zero chemistry, so each of them has to change into seductive lingerie as slowly as possible (for no real reason haha), to keep you half interested. No one says anything even remotely related to what little plot there was with the exception of an old boyfriend. It’s all about the boyfriends or a lack of confidence or comparing bodies etc, all the crappy slumber party gossip, things we couldn’t give two shits about. After 30 minutes you realise how annoying and self-absorbed every single one of these girls are, even the gothic/emo girl and you’re just over it.
There’s a lot of really poor editing and scenes that are cut way to quickly to make you think they probably didn’t need to be there at all. The entire film is riddled with a cheesy score and not that so bad it’s good cheese, just the blue stuff. It’s pretty much a given that when your music sucks your suspense is probably going to miss the mark too, and it does here. The acting is about what you’d expect from an in-experienced cast but Erin as Angela, has some credits to her name and is slightly better than the rest. The filler scenes that feel like it’s just you and a group of people chilling out are acted fine (but why wouldn’t they be), When it comes to actually acting during those emotional “I’m being chased by a psycho” scenes, everyone feels like they are either totally under or over playing it.
By far the most crucial aspect for success in any slasher film is the quality of the gore. Babysitter Massacre doesn’t make the cut, quite literally. Majority of the killing takes place off-screen and only the aftermath is shown. The after effects of some of the kills did have some nice detail and looked pretty decent given what the crew was probably working with but the action leading up to it leaves a lot to be desired. My argument is simply this. If you can make after effects look cool where was the attention to detail in the action scenes. For starters, none of the girls being tortured put up much of a fight which isn’t a realistic reaction. The kills mostly take place in the strangers basement/lair, which is horribly lit (probably to hide the lack of gore). My advice would be that the special effects and makeup team spend more time focused on the wounds as the killer inflicts them and less on what they look like after they are dead (because that’s secondary). I suppose the film does capture that old-school vibe of less is more. Think of a film like Maniac Cop where very little gore is shown, don’t get me wrong I like that but you also have to modernise your film for the new ages too.
Babysitter Massacre is a poor addition to the slasher genre and of all these types of films being released every year this one will hardly be remembered. If the rudimentary stuff were there this could have been a much better film. The aftermath of gore and the nudity kept me watching but a non-existent or uninteresting plot along with some crappy editing and fast cuts to hide the sub-par acting couldn’t possibly result in success. Plenty more of the red stuff and a rewrite/recast was needed to give this thing any hope at all and I’m disappointed to say I do not recommend this to anyone.
My review for “Babysitter Massacre” is 3.5/10