Babysitting is a dangerous gig. I did it for years and even when watching my little brother in our own home, I would get creeped out.
Our house was on a dead-end street in the country. Seriously. I’m sure a lot of that fear stemmed from seeing movies like “When a Stranger Calls” and “Halloween.” But before these two iconic movies had babysitters checking all the locks and closets, there was a little movie called Fright.
Amanda (Susan George) is hired to look after the young son of the Lloyds. Once alone, she sees faces appearing at the window and a mysterious stranger shows up, who is not who he claims to be. It turns out that he is the psychotic ex-husband of Helen Lloyd (Honor Blackman), who has just escaped from a mental institution. He was institutionalized after attempting to kill Helen and the baby.
Fright has a great cast. Along with George and Blackman are Ian Bannen, as the deranged Brian and George Cole as Helen’s new beau, Jim.
We have a big, creepy house in the English countryside, a blonde bombshell babysitter and a legit scary guy. Scary because he initially comes off as normal when we first meet him, even though we know who he is.
Brian quickly descends into crazy when he starts talking to Amanda. He confuses her with his estranged wife, seeing Helen’s face and saying her name. There is a particular scene in the nursery, when Brian wants to see the baby and Amanda, doing everything she can to protect the child, is nearly raped when he thinks he is getting intimate with Helen.
Several times, Amanda tries to escape with the baby, but Brian threatens to kill both of them. Even when Helen finally arrives with the police and Brian’s doctor.
One thing that was utterly fascinating was the calm demeanor of the child. This kid was really put through the ringer, not only having to pretend these actors were his parents, but often being held with a seemingly sharp object to his throat. He couldn’t have been more than two and not once did he cry. Granted, he was the son of the film’s director, but he seemed completely oblivious to the action going on around him.
Fright doesn’t necessarily hold up because it’s incredibly dated. It may also not be quite as suspenseful as “Stranger” or “Halloween” but don’t count it out. It has all the elements of a great thriller, so if you can get past the wardrobe and the set design, you’re in for quite a ride.