A common way for teenagers to make money once upon a time was to babysit. Whether it was their siblings or someone else’s children, teens — particularly young women — were paid a few bucks to keep someone’s kids safe for a couple of hours. And most of the time, everyone came out unscathed.
Yet in horror movies, babysitting is the most dangerous job for a teenager. We can vet sitters through apps and websites now, but that doesn’t deter a homicidal maniac from paying an unexpected visit. So, lock your doors and check on the kids because here are ten of the worst babysitting jobs in horror.
10. AMUSEMENT (2008)
In this anthology-style slasher, three young women find themselves under attack by someone from their past. Each of the victims are taken in a self-contained segment, but every incident is connected. In the second vignette, Tabitha (Katheryn Winnick) babysits her niece and nephew while their parents are out. She retires to her bedroom and finds it full of clown dolls. Though unnerving, Tabitha does her best to ignore her “audience.” One of the dolls is a life-sized one sitting in a rocking chair. Tabitha eventually inquires about said clown over the phone with her aunt; her aunt says they don’t own such a thing.
This story banks on your ignorance of the urban legend it’s based on. Even so, it’s the most successful thing about Amusement, a movie dependent on higher than average production values and ghoulish set pieces.
9. BETTER WATCH OUT (2016)
Although Australian in origin, this darkly comedic thriller is set in American suburbia. Better Watch Out (originally Safe Neighbourhood) follows a babysitter named Ashley (Olivia DeJonge). She’s put in charge of Luke (Levi Miller), a precocious twelve-year-old with an obvious crush on his caregiver. Their night takes a turn when “home alone” becomes “home invasion”. Ashley only wants to keep Luke safe, but she quickly learns she’s the one who needs protecting.
Audiences are divisive about the outcome of Better Watch Out. Nevertheless, it’s one babysitting gig you’ll never forget.
8. BABYSITTER WANTED (2008)
Angie (Sarah Thompson), a college freshman from a religious background, accepts a babysitting position at an isolated farmhouse. The clients’ son has an odd diet, but otherwise, everything seems normal. That is until the phone calls start. Someone is scaring Angie, and they’re not going to leave her alone until they get the boy. Why, though? The answer leaves Angie shocked and petrified.
Babysitter Wanted has a familiar setup, and it’s rife with clichés up to a point. That being said, the payoff is verily rewarding.
7. FRIGHT (1971)
One of the first feature films to exploit terrifying misadventures in babysitting was Fright. College student Amanda (Susan George) is watching over a young girl at an estate when she sees a stranger outside. After calling the mother, Amanda suspects her ward’s mentally unstable father has come to see his daughter.
Fright is an overlooked forerunner in babysitter terror. It fails to muster up substantial scares, but this proto-slasher paved the way for more evocative, similarly themed suspensers.
6. THE BABYSITTER (2017)
Cole (Judah Lewis) thinks he has the best babysitter ever. Bee (Samara Weaving) seems awesome on all fronts, but his opinion changes when he stays up late one night. He goes downstairs to find Bee entertaining guests. One of whom doesn’t stick around for long. Cole‘s curiosity has put him directly in harm’s way, and there’s no telling what’s gonna happen next.
McG’s The Babysitter has generated polarizing opinions since its premiere. Some lambast it for being wildly juvenile and objectifying; others lap up its asinine sense of humor. However one feels, they can’t deny Samara Weaving is a tremendous talent.
5. EMELIE (2016)
Three kids’ scheduled babysitter is abducted and replaced by Emelie (Sarah Bolger), and the potential victims are none the wiser. Emelie torments the children throughout the night in various emotionally traumatizing ways. What Emelie doesn’t expect, though, is for the kids to fight back.
This sleeper horror flips the script and has the babysitter being the antagonist. If seeing children being put through the ringer by an unhinged woman isn’t your thing, stay clear. Otherwise, fans of deeply twisted psychological thrillers will feel right at home with Emelie.
4. THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009)
Set in the 1980s, a college student named Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) is looking for part-time work. She ends up babysitting for a family living in a remote house. Turns out, there are no children to babysit; Samantha was hired to watch over her client’s mother-in-law. She agrees to stay for an exponential pay increase. As the night furthers along, it becomes evident something sinister is in the works for Samantha.
This Ti West film is both stylish and atmospheric. It’s indie horror at its best. The attention to design and aesthetic is remarkable. The House of the Devil is a modern genre classic waiting to be rediscovered.
3. WHEN A STRANGER CALLS (1979)
Jill (Carol Kane) receives a series of disturbing phone calls when she babysits two kids. When the police trace the call, they learn her harasser has been inside the house with her all along. The 1993 sequel to the 1979 movie, however, has an older Jill aiding a troubled young woman who experienced a similar episode.
Fred Walton’s When a Stranger Calls is why the “babysitter in peril” trope exists. In truth, he laid the groundwork for future slashers. His opening scene in the 1979 film is so perfectly executed. He one-upped himself with When a Stranger Calls Back, a sequel that improves on the original’s shortcomings. The 2006 remake was poorly received; it still summons some modest entertainment for anyone looking for adequate, spoonfed thrills.
2. ALONE IN THE DARK (1982)
After several dangerous patients escape from a maximum security mental hospital during a power blackout, they visit their doctors. And one psychiatrist’s daughter and her babysitter have the misfortune of being home when the men show up.
Not too many people talk about this movie from the golden age of slashers. It won’t land at the top of “best-of” lists, but Alone in the Dark skirts by because of its star power. Jack Palance, Donald Pleasence, and Martin Landau all have prominent, unforgettable roles in this hidden gem.
1. HALLOWEEN (1978)
Laurie Strodes (Jamie Lee Curtis) is spending Halloween night babysitting two kids. It should be a non-event, but someone has been watching her all day. And now he’s come to see her. Laurie spends the evening matching wits and fending off her masked attacker, a man who goes by the name of Michael Myers. Will she live long enough to tell the tale? Or will this be her last Halloween?
You can’t talk about horrible babysitting moments without thinking of Michael Myers‘ debut. Laurie is practically the poster child for final girls, too. Her story of stranger danger still haunts us to this day.