THE BABYSITTERS (Paolo O'Hara, 2014)
Official Entry, 2014 Cinema One Originals
I liked the premise of THE BABYSITTERS. A couple, Rod (Jayson Gainza) and Lucy (Katya Santos) are part of a kidnapping group where they babysit kidnapped children until the ransom is paid off. Their latest job turns sideways, and the boss orders his hitman to eliminate the child. But Rod and Lucy would not allow this, so they escape with the child.
Years later, Ben (Jhiz Deocareza), the kidnapped child is all grown up. To support their needs, Rod and Lucy engage in various con jobs, and Ben who is old enough to be aware of his parents’ schemes is in danger of becoming just like them. Upon careful examination, the plot would be a perfect opportunity for a moral irony— the con artists will pay for their sins through their adopted child who will grow up to be like them.
Or are they paying for their mistake to even keep the kidnapped child in the first place?
As the film enters the second act, things spiral out of control. Logic is thrown out of the window. Rod’s disgust for Ben is evident, but why keep him all these years? As a favor to his better half? Due to his conscience, perhaps? He works hard for him yet he distances himself from Ben who could be probably be the cuddliest child in the world.
When Rod discovers that Ben has photographic memory, he takes him gambling in order to solve their financial woes. Suddenly, Rod sees Ben as a golden goose. A sudden turn of events, indeed but very, very out of character for Rod.
A little later in the film, Rod and Lucy’s past catches up with them, and this is exactly how I predicted what the conflict would be in the plot. But the scene is so farfetched it possibly cannot happen in real life.
Also, (and spoiler alert, mind you!) when Ben is returned to his true parents, Ben does not show any hint of longing for his foster parents whom he knew all his life.
Paolo O’Hara and Mara Marasigan, who wrote the screenplay said during one screening that they mulled over several possible endings for the film, and perhaps this is where the problem originated. We are left with an ending that tries so hard to please.
Good thing, Katya Santos seems to be getting good at acting these days. Also, Jayson Gainza can hold up his own in heavy drama. There’s also that omniscient character in the movie who keeps turning up in various roles (security guard, principal, Christmas caroler, janitor, etc.) which is the film’s strongest element. It’s fascinating to have this one character (Jelson Bay) who has direct or indirect control (depending on the situation) of Rod and Lucy’s fate, and who seems to know everything.
THE BABYSITTERS, for what it’s worth is an attempt to showcase that criminals can become responsible citizens, too. However, the idea became polluted with scenes that are too laughable they cannot possibly be true, and with characters who cannot decide what their threshold for morality is.