“Unequivocally the most terrifying movie I’ve ever seen” – After Dark Magazine
I watched this film before I even knew what unequivocally meant but I was sure it was to be scary.
The film begins in darkness which is to be its setting for the majority. In cut scenes of the street and views of the house from the street you can barely see a thing apart from glinting lights in the distance. This echoes that it’s the things you cannot see that are what you should be most fearful of. This is overlaid with a wonderfully subtle and haunting percussion and string soundtrack, not dissimilar to something you’d get on Columbo and must be a 70’s thing, but don’t let that put you off, it’s amazing.
Our star, Jill (Carol Kane), who I assume is supposed to be a school girl but looks nearly 30, arrives at the Mandrakis household for her new babysitting job. Immediately they set up the rest of the story and Jill’s impending doom. “The children are asleep and just getting over colds so don’t go upstairs to check on them.” Oh dear, “if we’re not home by 10 we’ve gone on to see a movie so won’t be back until after 12.” You won’t be back until after 12 then...
Soon after Jill is left “alone” in the house the phone rings. It’s one of those shrill rings you get on old phones and seems to resonate throughout the house. Of course when she picks up the receiver, nobody answers and this happens a few times before the caller finally dares to speak, in a calm sinister English accent, “Have you checked the children?” Jill gets spooked and calls the cops who make her feel stupid but nonetheless take her details and promise to put a trace on her line. They insist she’s safe if she stays in the house.
Baring in mind this is just the first 15 minutes of the film it could easily be the entire film. The remake recognises this very well.
This film does the famous babysitter urban legend proud. At times over dramatic with the surprisingly sexy Colleen Dewhurst playing a troubled character who later is terrorised by our psychopath (Tony Beckley). Other times beautifully shot with hints of Hitchcock when stills are placed in to the film to accentuate the shock the viewer should be feeling at that moment. And the great Rachel Roberts plays the physiatrist to a T, just like something from One Flew Over the Cooker’s Nest.
In short, if you want an excuse not to babysit your nieces this weekend just tell them this story and walk away. Even if they are offering you £10 an hour, just walk away.