Written by Jennifer Miller
Directed by Peter Medak
Jeff Benedict...William Shatner
Liz Benedict...Patty Duke
Tara Benedict...Quinn Cummings
Joanna Redwine...Stephanie Zimbalist
Dr. Jeff Benedict moves his family to a new town, looking for a fresh start. He and his wife Liz have been having problems, stemming from his over-working and her over-drinking, and it's been affecting their precocious daughter Tara. But the move has been difficult on her too, and she's become lonely and removed.
Wanting to take some of the strain off herself, Liz hires 18-year-old Joanna Redwine to help out around the house and be a companion to her daughter. Joanna is the perfect employee, a real catch. But before you can say The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (or Poison Ivy, or any of a dozen other titles), Joanna is weaseling her way into the very fabric of the family unit, looking to make it her own.
It's a very familiar formula, and there are very few surprises to be found here. Still, there is comfort to be found in familiarity, so this was an easy one for me to enjoy. Besides, where else could you see Captain Kirk making out with one of the Identical Cousins? That's worth the price of admission alone.
The performances are all pretty solid, especially for a TV movie. Being a TV movie, though, the more salacious elements are heavily downplayed and it feels censored although it's not. Like a PG-13 edit of an erotic thriller, it all seems a little off.
Patty Duke is great as the fragile wife, even though she seems influenced by the barely-legal babe way too easily. William Shatner's performance is somewhere between the Shakespearean staginess of his early days and the over-the-top hamminess of his latter career. His character makes some questionable choices, but he was probably thinking with his Tribble--and we all know the trouble those get us men into.
Stephanie Zimbalist may not be the most convincing sociopath, but god damn, is she nice to look at.
It won't be converting any skeptics into horror fans, but The Babysitter proves to be a very watchable, though very predictable, melodramatic thriller.
"I'm sick and tired of your innuendo!"