Spoonful of Sugar
When Rebecca Michaels (Kat Foster) opens her door, she’s surprised to be greeted by a young girl in pigtails and what appears to be a school uniform, but Millicent (Morgan Saylor, "Blow the Man Down") claims to be a 21 year-old college student taking a semester break to work on her thesis about severe allergies in children, a background which makes her seem just perfect to babysit for Johnny (Danilo Crovetti) in “Spoonful of Sugar.”
Laura's Review: C+
That cheeky title is writer Leah Saint Marie’s twisted reference to Walt Disney’s most famous nanny, but despite those dancing penguins, I’m pretty sure Mary Poppins wasn’t microdosing LSD around the clock. Millicent’s actually accelerated the dosage of her monitored treatment, even mentioning lysergic acid’s beneficial properties as she babbles on about childhood allergies during her interview, but Rebecca, caught between maternal paranoia and professional demands fails to note that little red flag.
Johnny is a strange case indeed, a boy of about ten who’s never spoken, wears an astronaut suit and, according to his mother, is allergic to nickel, animal fur and too many other things to mention, a walking lawsuit waiting to happen. Then there’s Rebecca’s husband Jacob (Myko Olivier, TV's 'Menendez: Blood Brothers'), a carpenter with an aversion to shirts who suggestively sprays the window Millie’s looking through with a spurt of water from his hose. While Rebecca writes about sex, her husband advertises it.
Millie’s clearly not normal, as seen in a session with Dr. Welsh (Keith Powell) where she envisions his finger dropping off onto the floor and making its way across it to climb up her leg (leaving a trail of blood that will have a parallel echo with Rebecca later). But her unbounded enthusiasm appeals to Johnny and soon he’s leading her to dead rabbits buried in the garden (those allergies be damned!) after sharing hits of acid. Then he does something unprecedented – he says the word ‘mommy’ – but says it to Millie in Rebecca’s presence. You’ll probably figure out where Johnny’s problems spring from well before Jacob makes the accusation himself.
Director Mercedes Bryce Morgan has fun with rotting flora and fauna and her perverse sex triangle while highlighting themes of motherhood in all their extreme variations, but she never pulls everything together into a satisfactory whole. Millie’s living arrangements with an old pervert (David Yow, "Dinner in America") seem tacked on, for example, and when the slaughter begins it makes little sense in the scheme of things other than for its shock value.
“Spoonful of Sugar” has its perverse pleasures and you’ll probably never hear 'Oh My Darling, Clementine' the same way again, but this PSA for LSD doesn’t go down as smoothly as it should have.
"Spoonful of Sugar" is a Shudder original film to be released on their streaming platform on 3/2/23.