From Director Mercedes Bryce Morgan, Spoonful of Sugar is a slow-burn thriller with a generally ambiguous plot line that follows Millicent (Morgan Saylor) as she becomes a caregiver to young Johnny (Danilo Crovetti). Johnny being a mute special needs child with severe allergies, to just about anything writer Leah Saint Marie can throw in, also holds many secrets that Millicent hopes to uncover by covertly administering LSD to the child. As the bond between babysitter and child seems to grow, the plot seems to unfold with the classic archetype of the babysitter taking the maternal role and winning the child’s love (Hand That Rocks The Cradle). However, sub-polts arise in developing the characters of the mother and the father, Rebecca (Kat Foster) is a writer specializing in using pain through sex for unrealized fulfillment, while Jacob (Myko Olivier) is a seemingly stay-at-home carpenter working on projects around the house. With tensions arising with their sex life it is eluded that Jacob had an affair with a previous babysitter yet here he continues to work topless under the watchful eye of Millicent. Rebecca is left to explore her own dissatisfaction in the relationship as she tries to rekindle the passion she and Jacob once had by introducing choking and other pain techniques into their lovemaking.
Each of the three main adult characters in Spoonful of Sugar possesses a sexual deviancy that is kept in the forefront of each subplot but never really materializes into anything that takes over the main story. Instead, the story hints at the LSD usage by both Millicent and Johnny yet never really fully develops this storyline. With a brief break from the mute condition, viewers are left wondering if it was the LSD that contributed to the breakthrough or the connections that were formed by Millicent in the care of Johnny. But in typical slow-burn horror fashion, the characters are eventually forced to intermingle in a more direct manner leading to the revelation of the true story arc, the climax, the grisly deaths, and the high action we have been waiting for.
Spoonful of Sugar hits the story arc with precision, leading all characters to reveal their true agendas at opportune times releasing the tension that has been building throughout the film. Spoonful of Sugar borrows more from this tension throughout the movie, relying on the viewer to form stories in their own minds and not sensationalizing the action on the screen. The lack of effects and pointless action allows Morgan to weave an intricate tapestry of character and foreboding making this an artful film instead of a cheap attempt at jump-scare horror.
Although most of the story subplots have been used many times before, and borders on cliche Spoonful of Sugar is able to develop these elements in an effective manner. For example, (trying to remain spoiler-free), Johnny being mute is something we have seen countless times, yet here we have it again. Writer Saint Marie and Director Morgan realize this and offer a twist to this that comes out completely unexpected and validates the usage of the tired cliche. Perhaps, Spoonful of Sugar requires more than one watch to fully appreciate the subtleties put into place when the overall pacing seemed to drag.
Rating 6/10 for:
- Amazing acting and character development particularly from Kat Foster and Morgan Saylor, however, contrasted by the two-dimensional character of Jacob. This character, unfortunately, becomes the typical horny house husband looking to cheat on his wife by any means necessary and is not validated as a husband and partner worth the time and effort this family is spending.
- Brilliant cinematography is utilized throughout the house. The contrast between darkness to the foreboding story offers a climate of tension.
- Intricate sub-plots that intermingle together perfectly at the finale, yet seem to be missing their individual potential as main story arcs. Each subplot should have been given a bit more time to be explored, a missed opportunity here to keep the runtime down.
- Too many cliche story devices were used leading up to the plot revelation.
- The pacing dragged at the wrong times making the build-up seem longer than it should have.
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