Spoonful of Sugar
Dir. Mercedes Bryce Morgan (2022)
A young babysitter is taking a semester off from college to explore her thesis that allergies can be treated with a regiment of LSD. Things go awry (obviously) when she has a sexual awakening because of her young ward’s father, which doesn’t quite set well with his wife.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Psychological horror is well overdone, especially with seemingly every movie wanting to jam in trauma and unreliable narrators regardless of the plot. When it’s done right, though, it can be a doozy, elevating a film otherwise filled with tension and dread into twisty territory reserved for the best of Shyamalan with the visual flair akin to Stone’s Natural Born Killers. While Spoonful of Sugar might not go quite that far, it’s an excellent film filled with great performances, some trippy visuals, and a disturbingly effective plot that will stay in your brain for days.
Morgan Saylor (White Girl) plays Millicent, a young woman who has bounced around to different foster homes with unfortunately predictable results, becoming a victim of abuse at every stop but refusing to let it foil her dreams of experimenting on children. She has found a new family to babysit for, taking over the care of Johnny (Danilo Crovetti), a young boy who has every allergy under the sun and is forced to wear a helmet that he only feels comfortable wearing while in a full spacesuit outfit. His mother Rebecca (Kat Foster, Weeds) writes sexual self-help books, while his father Jacob (Myko Olivier, Menendez: Blood Brothers) seems to serve as a general handyman and the object of her constant sexual attention. Needless to say, introducing a young girl into this dynamic does not go particularly well, and when Millicent sets her sights on Jacob, and of courses uses the Johnny’s newfound infatuation with her to help get her man, things go off the rails and her past begins to come into horrifying focus. Plus, there’s near-constant use of LSD, which makes things even trippier.
Director Mercedes Bryce Morgan does a brilliant job of crafting writer Leah Saint Marie’s story, indulging the audience in various twists and turns that delivers an incredibly compelling psychological horror. Millicent is a disturbed young woman, and her sexual awakening at Jacob’s hands feels particularly wrong despite it’s legality. Her experiments with LSD often leave the story in doubt, but it’s done so in a way that is clear and never confusing, the film never feeling like it needs to explain itself but never particularly needing to either. The acting is phenomenal top to bottom, and even Crovetti, despite his annoying screams when he’s exposed to one of his “allergens,” never finds himself in The Babadook territory for making the audience want to change the channel. While we never completely understand why LSD is the treatment du jour for both Millicent and Johnny, it serves as a backdrop for the psychological horror and family drama in which the plot is enveloped.
It's been a while since I’ve seen a film that I felt was legitimately disturbing, and this one most definitely is. Spoonful of Sugar feels like a psychotic film, one perhaps made by someone who wasn’t of sound mind themselves. It feels like a more child-like May, a story that seems set just to the side of sanity but with such deep characters that you can’t peel your eyes from the screen. It is psychosexual horror done absolutely right, and it’s one that feels as full of cringe as it does terror. Incredibly well-done film, and I highly recommend checking it out.
Who this movie is for: Psychological horror lovers, Creepy kid fans, Timothy Leary
Bottom line: Excellent psychosexual horror with some stellar performances, Spoonful of Sugar is one of my favorites that I’ve seen in a long time. The jaw-dropping ending left me wanting to show this film off to my people, and I have a feeling a lot of you will be feeling the same way. It’s streaming on Shudder on March 2nd, and I can’t wait to watch it again. Check this one out and let me know what you think.