Christopher A. Micklos’ and Jay Sapiro’s throwback supernatural slasher ‘The Nursery’ does well to blend together a number of more well-known horror plots, antagonists and scares in just about the right amounts to deliver a babysitter in plight movie which is more watchable than first impressions might indicate.
The plot opens as we see Ranae (Maddi Conway) accepting a job as a babysitter for a well to do couple. In the first instance everything seems normal, but predictably, it is not. Still struggling to cope with the death of her own mother, Renae’s nerves are tested further as she begins to receive grisly text messages and photos from the phone of her friends, as well as seeing images of the infant she has charge over in a variety of dead states in her dreams. Determined to prove their innocence and to support their friend her mates come over, but it’s not enough, as the house is harbouring a dark secret.
The bulk of which will be slowly revealed throughout the course of 90 minutes via exposition, in the mean time all of the friends will die one by one…
You know the drill.
Let’s not beat around the bush here, ‘The Nursery’ is not a title you sit to watch expecting a cinematic trip into originality. From the moment the long-haired antagonist ghost flickers into the dimly lit frame you know you’ve likely seen it all before, but hell, just because you know the destination don’t mean you can’t enjoy the story… right?
Well, so-so. ‘The Nursery’ comes recommended as ‘watchable’ in my mind. The plot provides a safe canvass for an array of first time cast to feel their way through, and whilst performances vary in quality, the unfortunate victims of the house’s resident spook are well enough acted and interesting enough as characters to get you through the earlier ‘scene setting’ aspects of the films run time. Conway stands out as a strong heroin, but her character seems to react at a different pace to both peril and bad news; this sees her have her moment at key points in the film but doing buggar all a lot of the time.
As the group are picked off one at a time, and I mean that literally, for what is essentially a standard house, why the group seem to want to search each room in the house alone is beyond me. Indeed, as they split up and explore their own agendas they appear completely oblivious to their friends being violently assaulted in the rooms next to their location, so much so, most are only aware of their friend’s demise when the ghoul sends a picture message alerting them!
But here I jest, its not to big of a deal – just a bit random.
The film does score points in its delivery of certain scares, and in some of its more gruesome moments. Once you look past the films run of the mill plot developments – often delivered via Skype from Renae’s brother – an expert on the occult, there is some fun to be had. The film throws a lot of jumps scares your way with some being more effective than others. The ghost looks ominous in certain shots, and in the way she moves when stalking her victims; think Samara in ‘The Ring’ and you will be right there. There are some nice ghostly overlays in camera shots and via baby monitors and many other little tricks taken right out of the James Wan handbook of scaring the shit out of people. Don’t get me wrong ‘The Nursery’ isn’t terrifying, but it has its creepy moments.
Overall, ‘The Nursery’ takes its cue from many effective and well know horror and when it works – which is more often than not – it’s a fun movie to sit down with. I’m not going to get to carried away though, seasoned horror fans have seen it all before, and here opinions will be polarised; you will either enjoy the film for its own merits (and more than a hint of nostalgia), or you will just pass it off as an inferior copy of better films. Either way, ‘The Nursery’ is out now on VOD and in August on DVD.