Lifetime Review: 'Babysitter's Nightmare'
A babysitting gig turns to horror in this tense and well-acted home invasion thriller.
In the wake of a child patient's death, nurse Daphne Hart (Brittany Underwood) finds herself falsely getting much of the blame--despite the fact that superior was largely responsible for the tragedy. Now without a job and ending her relationship with fellow hospital employee Jeremy (Mark Grossman), Daphne reluctantly agrees to babysit for the Andrews, agreeing to watch after their diabetic son Toby (Jet Jurgensmeyer) while they go on a trip.
However, shortly after her arrival, Daphne gets the strange sense that she's being watched. This, coupled with the news of another babysitter's recent murder, has Daphne feeling on edge--and it soon becomes clear that there's an uninvited guest at the Andrews house....and is about to turn a simple babysitting job into a night of pure terror.
Lifetime has been known to take the occasional stab at the horror genre, and Babysitter's Nightmare seems to be an effort to use their formula to construct a home invasion/"trapped in a house with a killer"-type horror flicks. The atmosphere and cinematography certainly helps build this feeling, with the dark lighting and isolated feel of the Andrews' extravagant house heightening the peril our main heroine has been thrust into. And like any good horror film, the third act keeps the viewer on their toes, uncertain of what's going to happen and who will walk away alive in the end.
In another parallel to the best kind of horror movies, the cast is strong and doesn't devolve into a group of people existing just to get slashed up. Brittany Underwood, who is no stranger to Lifetime, makes for an immensely sympathetic protagonist, with Daphne feeling remorse and guilt over her patient's death despite not having any direct involvement in the events leading to the tragic event. While she does end up falling into the same behaviors reserved for horny college students in Friday the 13th movies during the movie's runtime, she never does anything idiotic enough to make her impossible to root for—especially when one keeps her backstory in mind. Jet Jurgensmeyer exudes charm and charisma as Daphne's quirky charge and Mark Grossman makes a strong appearance as Daphne's backstabbing boyfriend, using his limited screen time to give Jeremy's character some depth and avoid letting him turn into the flat "Jerk Ex" mold. Reagan Pasternak also has a brief but powerful scene as Toby's mother Karen, opening up to Daphne about her struggle with her son's health issues and how that struggle has allowed her to empathize with her and trust her to look after Toby in the wake of her indirect role in her deceased patient's death.
A surprisingly strong member of the cast, however, would be Shanica Knowles, who plays Daphne's best friend and co-worker Kaci Washington. From the beginning of the movie, Kaci proves herself to be an immensely loyal friend to Daphne, and makes no hesitation in calling out her work superiors for using Daphne as a scapegoat. When Kaci eventually finds herself joining Daphne for her babysitting gig and is pulled into the film's terror, Kaci continues her role as the strong willed best friend by helping Daphne and Toby evade the mysterious intruder tormenting them. While her role may not have been as large as advertised by Lifetime's promos, Kaci proves to be an effective co-protagonist for the film's third act and provides snark that any regular Lifetime fan will eat up like candy.
Babysitter's Nightmare, in another similarity to horror films, certainly won't win points for originality. The "Stuck At An Isolated House with a Psycho Killer" has certainly been done before and most viewers will be able to identify the stalker and their motivation with ease. But overall, the great atmosphere and likable main cast makes Babysitter's Nightmare an enjoyable thriller that's bound to entertain.
Score: 8 out of 10 wind chimes.