starring Elyse Dufour, Jack Champion, Jermaine Rivers, Amber Neukum
written and directed by John Rocco and Abiel Bruhn
by Walter Chaw From the first synth chords of Rob Himebaugh's awesome '80s-inspired score; from the first glimpse of DP Scotty G. Field's gorgeous, neon-soaked lighting schemes; from the first look at world-weary heroine Amber (Elyse Dufour), herself a feat of lighting and colour coordination, The Night Sitter announces itself to be a major player. Filmmakers Abiel Bruhn and John Rocco's feature debut, it covers one really bad night in the life of poor, terrified Kevin (Jack Champion). His dad (Joe Walz) a wannabe reality-show host of one of those paranormal shows, hires Amber to sit for him and his girlfriend's (Deanna Meske) horrible kid, Ronnie (Bailey Campbell), leaving them alone with a locked door, behind which are all the demonic artifacts dad's been hoarding throughout his misspent career. That he's a loser is never a question (he times his reel to "accidentally" play for the benefit of pretty Amber), but he's a rich loser--meaning that as soon as dad is gone on his date, Amber calls her friends (Jermaine Rivers, Amber Neukum, J. Benedict Larmore) to come help her loot the place. Unfortunately, Ronnie has found where dad keeps the key to the demon room.
The Night Sitter is a delight. It hits the sweet spot between nostalgia and innovation and hits it consistently. I love the moment where Kevin and Ronnie find the Necronomicon in dad's secret room, a very particular type of forbidden text, and then Kevin gets a paper cut. Rather than dwell on the moment, horrible Ronnie mocks Kevin for hurting himself. It's never not exhilarating when the Necronomicon appears, never not hilarious when some idiot starts reading it, and never not uproarious when said idiot manages to bleed on it. The brilliance of The Night Sitter is that it takes it that step farther by having an irritating kid do an intensely irritating thing. It's all about amplification. The colour scheme is not just Argento prime, it's mega-Argento prime. The Three Mothers aren't just witches: they're dicks. And no matter how badly a guy gets beaten up during sex with his possessed girlfriend, he's, you know, sort of into it. It is, along with Andy Muschietti's It, the most successful entry in this wave of '80s throwback horrors. It's not at all easy to do something that feels this easy. I'm excited to see these guys do next.