Seldom has a film taken so much trouble to set us up for a
horrendous pay-off in blood and gore, and then, apparently, just
forgotten what kind of film it was supposed to be. In the opening
scene, we see a stout, grizzled homicide detective arrive at a
crime scene where he is so sickened by what he sees that he can’t
enter the room of the carnage. Then we see the police grunts
hauling out the victims in bags, some of them rather small. But we
in the audience never see so much as a drop of blood.

So it goes. Simon West directs this sterile exercise with all
the trappings of the Nightmare on Elm Street/Halloween/Friday 13
bimbo-babysitters-in-peril genre—without, get this, any torn flesh
or gaping, gushing wounds. A cat jumps, a bird flutters, the phone
rings, a door opens—and the soundtrack decibels jump exponentially.
There’s atmospheric rain, an isolated mansion stuffed with
technological safeguards that aren’t worth a damn, and an entire
style manual’s worth of forebodings and foreshadowings. But when we
finally are shown a dead body, it is just a dead body, unmarked and
in one piece, with no sign of violence and no expression of horror
or agony on her features. The next dead body is at the bottom of an
indoor fishpond, but similarly intact and unbloody—almost

Mostly, we get the incredibly insipid Camilla Belle wandering
around the vast house, while her high school chums play phone
pranks on her and the killer gradually tightens the electronic
noose around her. Camilla comes “highly recommended” as a baby
sitter, but she doesn’t even make visual contact with her charges
until three hours after she has arrived at the job, and only then
because the homicidal maniac calls to suggest she check on

This is a stupid, irritating movie—weird without being
interesting—but I was almost grateful to West for sparing us the


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