The Night Sitter is a horror film written and directed by Abiel Bruhn (Push 2017) and John Rocco (Just Say No 2011). This shadowy thriller shows us what transpires when a babysitter attempts to rob the house of a paranormal investigator as the PI’s trapped witches are let loose. What starts as a routine worknight for this crook turns into a fight for survival against forces she’d never expected to encounter. While this film builds a load of tension and plays like an ’80s spirit revenge story, there are gaps in logic and a sudden conclusion that keep it from registering as one of the year’s best.
The pacing and story in The Night Sitter are wonderful. Bruhn and Rocco build a simple formula that is one part Night of the Demons (check out our review here) and one part The Babysitter (2017 – check out our review here), which equates to an ample amount of good looking ghosts and better looking gore. As Amber, played wonderfully by Elyse Dufour (The Walking Dead TV series), spends a night babysitting Kevin (Jack Champion: Avengers: Endgame 2019), she thinks she’s in for an easy score on this rich family. But as Kevin unleashes The Three Mothers, a group of witches who murdered children and got killed during the Salem trials, they return for revenge and change the entire course of the evening. This leads to a cat-and-mouse game of haunting, illusions, and fun jump-scares.
The dialogue in The Night Sitter is snappy and realistic. Kevin and his friend, Ronnie (Bailey Campbell: Bleed 2016), talk to each other as kids speak in 2019. They have a sharp and sarcastic rapport with Amber as they sneak off to find the key to Kevin’s dad’s forbidden workroom. While some of the other characters are grating or outlast their welcome, all of the principles are pointed and play well. Some of the cinematography and lighting deserve a mention here, also. There are a few long takes with dolly shots or pans that fit very well, and the ghost rooms are often lit with an ominous red or green hue that aids the creepy ambiance.
So you’re asking, “Where’s the bad?” With a good story, good acting, good gore, good cinematography and good dialogue, you’d think this was a sure-fire home run. But the thing that kept The Night Sitter from sitting in constant award contention were the leaps in logic that it makes. When the characters find out things that should change their relationships, they react as if nothing happens. When the final act and motivations of the chaos are revealed, people are left asking unanswered questions. Suspension of disbelief goes hand-in-hand with cinema, but when characters react illogically, it takes you out of the tension and into a mode of disappointment. The right emotions weren’t portrayed in the last half hour of this thriller, taking it into schlock comedy territory.
So at the end of the day, will The Night Sitter be more remembered for its throwback ghosts and creepy homages, or will it be spoiled by the lack of explanation to its final reveals? Time will tell, but either way, this movie will carve out its place in your mind, hoping for more of an answer in the future.