Welcome to 50 first times; the movie-related post in which I watch, discuss and debate films that I’VE NEVER SEEN. I aim to work my way through 50 movies that I’ve previously missed/avoided, recording my thoughts along the way.

This collection of posts is a follow-up to 90 from the ’90s. However, while I previously focused on films from the 1990s, this time around I’m widening the field to cover any movie from any decade.

I’m going to watch good films, bad films, forgotten classics, Oscar winners and everything in between. Today I’m watching…

The Sitter (1977)

Now before I begin, I should point out that The Sitter is a horror short. Released in 1977, the movie runs around 20 minutes in length and is effectively one long sequence, rather than a fully fleshed out feature film.

So why have I chosen it for today’s unseen movie?

Well, I’ve picked The Sitter because a.) I’ve not watched it before (meeting my criteria for 50 first times, and b.) it is a precursor to When a Stranger Calls – another film I have yet to see, but will be watching shortly.

You may recall, back when I worked my way through 90 films from the 1990s, one of the movies I watched was When a Stranger Calls Back – the 1993 horror sequel to When A Stranger Calls. During the course of the post I mentioned how I had never seen the original, so would endeavour to watch it at some point in the future.

Well, I still aim to watch When a Stranger Calls, but before I do, I felt it necessary to watch The Sitter – the short that inspired the two films.

Here goes…

*Clicks play*

15secs – This film is very ’70s. The music, the clothes – everything screams ’70s.

1mins – A girl has arrived at the home of a pair of arseholes rich couple. She is going to be babysitting their kids while they go out to dinner and be complete dicks.

4mins 50secs – The babysitter has just received a rather strange phone call. The caller simply said “have you checked the children?”.

Image: ©Columbia Pictures

Initial observations:

OK, so within the first five minutes this short is establishing a number of things:

  • The babysitter is a young, vulnerable adult
  • With the exception of the children (who are not shown) she is alone in the house
  • A stranger has been able to get inside the house, via the telephone

Hmm… so, this is the exact same premise that opened When a Stranger Calls Back (and presumably, When a Stranger Calls).

Further observations:

12mins 20secs – “Why haven’t you checked the children?”

Image: ©Columbia Pictures

The caller has altered his question slightly and in doing so it is clear he is becoming impatient. This is adding to the tension, it’s just a shame the ’70s ‘musac’ that is playing over the scene is impacting the suspense of the situation.

More observations:

The caller is calling from inside the house! This would have been a huge shock, if I wasn’t already familiar with this premise.

I wonder how well this played to audiences the first time around? Did many people see this short?

Final observations:

The caller is never shown on screen, but by the end of the film it is revealed that the children are dead… and have been for hours. Blimey, that’s dark!

*Clicks stop*

Conclusion:

It’s very clear to me why The Sitter was expanded beyond it’s 20 minute format and turned into a feature film. The idea of an unseen stranger terrorising a babysitter has so much potential for a horror movie, which is why the idea was also re-used in Halloween and Scream.

BUT…

I’m not entirely sure The Sitter works as well as it should.

The Sitter has all the right ingredients for a good horror, yet it lacks the suspense that it needs. It’s simply not scary.

I’m now very intrigued to see what When a Stranger Calls manages to do with this premise to make it work. I guess I’ll find out very soon (yes, I will be watching it next).

But for now, I liked The Sitter, it just needed a little more oomph. Oh and it needed a much better soundtrack too.

Want to know what else I’ve been watching for the first time? Then you should check out my posts for A Night at the Roxbury (1998)The Dark Crystal (1982)Starchaser: The Legend of Orin (1985)Super (2010)When Harry Met Sally (1989)What We Do in the Shadows (2014)Shin Godzilla (2016), and Road House (1989).