Saturday 4 March 2023

Shudder Saturday: Spoonful Of Sugar (2022)

Between the two of them, director Mercedes Bryce Morgan and writer Leah Saint Marie have amassed a considerable body of work. Most of their films seem to be shorts/music videos, but there are also some TV movies in the mix. You wouldn't guess that from watching Spoonful Of Sugar, however, which is a horrible and unentertaining mess of a film.

Morgan Saylor plays Millicent, a young woman who starts a job as nanny for young Johnny (Danilo Crovetti). Johnny has a number of severe allergies, all explained to Millicent by his strained mother, Rebecca (Kat Foster). Although present, Johnny's father (Jacob, played by Myko Olivier) seems more focused on recapturing the days when he had a much more active and exciting sex life than helping to care for his sickly child. Hired without being asked too many questions about her lack of experience, or her own medical situation (as she is currently taking prescribed LSD because that is what the film requires), Millicent is soon creating tension in the household while developing a worryingly close connection to her young charge.

I can see what Morgan and Marie were aiming for here, I think. If Spoonful Of Sugar leaned further into hallucinations and surrealism then it might be worth a watch. If everything we saw was through the eyes of Millicent, and we knew that she couldn't always trust her senses, then the concept may have worked. That's not the way the film is presented though. The scenes with Millicent front and centre work the best, and there's a great early moment when she is talking to her doctor (Keith Powell) while keeping an eye on a lively, dismembered, finger moving around the room. Nothing else works though, and viewers will struggle to care about anyone, or anything, on the way to a punchline that would have worked much better in a more satisfying movie.

Saylor does well in her role. She's certainly the best presence onscreen, weaving between her mask of sanity and her unhinged potential threat to those around her. Foster and Olivier, on the other hand, aren't good. They're just not giving anything decent to work with though, the former being shown as constantly tense and the latter just trying to retain his ability to emanate some alpha male sex appeal bullshit. As for Crovetti, he is somehow both more and less annoying than he could be, depending on the scene.

Having seen her in one or two other movie roles, Saylor remains an interesting actress to keep an eye on. It's just a shame that I've not yet seen her in a movie that feels worthy of her talent. I hope that changes soon. She's the main reason to give this a go. Morgan and Marie are probably pleased with the end result, having clearly set out to make a trippy and strange psychological thriller that riffs on both bad babysitter movies and the "[insert noun here] from hell" subgenre. 

If you really want an experience similar to watching this, but without wasting too much time, then I highly recommend instead seeking out, and listening to, "Babysitters On Acid", a superb song by Lunachicks that genuinely delivers a better atmosphere and story in 4 minutes than this does in 90.


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