Arrow in the Head reviews Joe Cornet’s horror film Night of the Caregiver, starring Natalie Denise Sperl and Eileen Dietz
PLOT: A hospice nurse accepts a high-paying one-night job taking care of an elderly woman… but as the night goes on, it becomes clear there’s a supernatural evil lurking in the woman’s home.
REVIEW: After directing four Westerns in a row (A Prayer for the Damned, Incident at Guilt Ridge, Promise, and Gunfight at Rio Bravo), Joe Cornet has switched things up and made his horror debut with Night of the Caregiver – and he brought several Rio Bravo collaborators along with him: producer Alexander Nevsky, writer Craig Hamann, and cast members Natalie Denise Sperl and Anna Oris.
Now that Cornet is working in the horror genre, he doesn’t waste any time getting to the good stuff. There’s no holding back from letting viewers know there’s a demonic creature in the mix. Within the first minute, the camera has roamed through a creepy house, we’ve seen the hand of a monster that’s making its way around the location, and we’ve seen that the titular caregiver is so creeped out that she’s napping with a flashlight close by. Of course, this is a flash forward and we’ll soon be jumping back in time to see how the situation progressed to this point, but the fact that Cornet was willing to show part of the monster within the opening seconds went over well with me.
The caregiver is Juliet (Sperl), a hospice nurse who has answered an ad for a high-paying one-night job to watch over an elderly woman in an isolated mansion. The woman is Lillian Gresham, played by Eileen Dietz – who has over 100 screen acting credits to her name, but the one you’ll see referenced most often is The Exorcist, where she was the face of the demon Pazuzu. Dietz makes sure we care about Lillian within moments of meeting her, as this lady is adorable and very friendly, serving up cookies and tea. But while the terminally ill Lillian rests in her bedroom, Juliet begins to suspect there’s some “paranormal weirdness going down” in her home. She starts seeing things and hearing things, including visions of her own murder at the clawed hands of a demon. Soon enough, she’s napping with a flashlight close by…
It’s an economical set-up for a horror story, as the film largely takes place in one location, and for most of the time we’re focused on just two characters: Juliet and Lillian. But they aren’t the only people in the movie. There are occasional phone conversations with Juliet’s friend Pamela (Oris), and Cornet himself plays a detective who is trying to find out what happened to his mother when she disappeared twenty-six years earlier. There’s talk of an urban legend that resurfaces every thirteen years – and to aid the detective in his investigation of this urban legend, a parapsychologist (Eric Roberts) directs him to an isolated mansion. Lillian Gresham’s place.
The cast does well in their roles, with Sperl making for a good horror heroine and engaging in some fun banter with Oris. Cornet’s character adds an interesting element to the story, and it’s always nice to see Roberts show up in something. It’s not a rare event, because Roberts may be the busiest person working in the entertainment industry today (he has racked up over 700 acting credits!), but it’s still fun to see him every single time.
Night of the Caregiver moves quickly, which is evident from the fact that it wraps up in just 77 minutes. If you’re tired of bloated running times and slow burns, watching this movie might bring you a sense of relief. This one doesn’t drag things out, it isn’t padded with filler, it just sets up an intriguing mystery, puts Juliet through some creepy scenes, then delivers an exciting climactic sequence. Sometimes a short and simple, straightforward creepy house / lurking demon movie is exactly what you want to spend your evening with.
Night of the Caregiver is receiving a theatrical and VOD release in North America on August 15th, courtesy of ITN Studios.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/night-of-the-caregiver-review/