“The call is coming... from inside the house!” From Laurie Strode to urban legends, babysitting is rarely a wise career move for young women in genre fiction. This proves to be no less true for sad student Ranae, whose own adventures in babysitting see her battling evil spirits in her infant ward's nursery.
Eventually. Even by the standards of low-budget horror, there's quite the wait for the film's horror or action beats, as directors Christopher A. Micklos and Jay Sapiro spend the bulk of the time inadvertently ensuring one comes to hate Ranae and her friends long before they get to dying. Going for the slow-burn approach is all good and well, but when the amateur-hour actors are unable to step up to the challenge – as they are here - it all becomes rather interminable. While there are far worse actors out there than the crew assembled here, Micklos's script does them no favours, largely consisting of having everyone sit around telling each other to 'shut up' a lot. Kudos for the use of the word 'baby-dick' as a pejorative though.
Still, when it does get to its point, The Nursery is passable horror entertainment, with just enough style to distract from its low-budget shortcomings. It's too dark and the screeching sound design irritates, but it does cover up the lack of budget well, and there's a real creepiness to its Ringu-esque villain, all black hair and looming menace. While these individual elements are rife with cliché, Micklos and Sapiro set them up in a way that doesn't feel completely predictable, allowing for a number of mildly effective surprises during the film's last half.
Ultimately, The Nursery is a deeply average supernatural horror film. Its acting jumps from bad to terrible, the story never really takes off, and any sense of suspense is ruined by the horrendous sound design, but it plays well within its own low-budget wheelhouse, boosted by spooky visuals and commendably weird horror action. Eventually.
THE NURSERY / CERT: TBC / DIRECTORS: CHRISTOPHER A. MICKLOS, JAY SAPIRO / SCREENPLAY: CHRISTOPHER A. MICKLOS / STARRING: EMMALINE FRIEDERICHS, DAVID SAPIRO, CARLY RAE JAMES SAUER / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (US), TBC (UK)