Starring: Morgan Saylor, Kat Foster and Myko Olivier
Directed by: Mercedes Bryce Morgan
Running Time: 94 minutes
Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Rebecca (Foster) is looking for a babysitter to help out with her non-speaking son, Johnny (Danilo Crovetti), who suffers from about every allergy on the planet. Rebecca is enamored with Millicent (Saylor), a 21-year-old college student who’s taking a break from school to work on a thesis about children with allergies. This sounds like a match made in Heaven for Rebecca, who’s busy as an author and whose husband, Jacob (Olivier), is ill-equipped to deal with the couple’s son, probably because Jacob spends all his time doing carpentry, yard work and household chores without a shirt on. That shirtlessness triggers Millicent and what seems like a great scenario for all slow burns into a lucid nightmare.
Not everything is at it appears in “Spoonful of Sugar.” Millicent finds out that Johnny may not have the allergies Rebecca claims he has. Rebecca, despite opening her home to Millicent, is a territorial lionness, forgiving everything little bizarre thing that Johnny does while snarling at Millicent who seems to connect with Johnny. But Rebecca has a right to be suspicious of Millicent, she’s developing an attraction to Jacob and is also microdosing LSD to an extent that she’s experiencing hallucinations. The movie appears to be developing a toxic throuple, but the longer “Spoonful of Sugar ” goes on, the harder it is to decipher who, if anyone, is the good person in this scenario.
“Spoonful of Sugar” begins on uneven footing, mainly because so much information is jammed down our throat that we barely have time to settle in. The movie begins with the idea that Millicent is the fox in the hen house, but as we relax into the narrative, it becomes very obvious that something else is going on, regardless of Millicent’s emotional instability, Jacob’s loose morals, Rebecca’s knee jerk reactions and Johnny’s general weirdness and odd psychotic tendencies that come out in quick stabs, quite literally.
“Spoonful of Sugar” condensed seasons worth of soap opera drama into a 94-minute psychological horror that will make you question what exactly is going on and what exactly is going to happen in the final frame. The film also slams in several themes like womanhood, motherhood, sexuality, coming-of-age, mental illness, drugs, and probably a bunch more I didn’t take notice of or that I’m currently forgetting as I write this. Some of those themes do work in outstanding fashion, but the overarching problem is that there’s too much going on without any dose of logic to help ground the story and its themes in reality. “Spoonful of Sugar” has too many moments that force the viewer to suspend reality. It could be explained away by LSD or general horror film cliches, but the pace is sometimes so fast, you either take something away from a scene or leave and enter the next scene in a state of confusion.
There’s a lot of intentional shocking moments, whether an injection of violence or a visual attempt to make you feel uncomfortable. For instance, Millicent says she’s 21, but she may actually be a teenager. She also might be older. That confusion conflicts with the visuals on-screen, when Millicent looks like a college student, looks well past her prime, or simply looks like a teenager with her pigtails. The film is good at unsettling the viewer and when it does shock, it’s not without meaning or a rightful attempt to make viewers queasy over the implication. I found “Spoonful of Sugar” to be very rewarding and I’m mulling over a second watch just to see if some of the themes introduced were simply red herrings to distract viewers away from several twists and ideas presented.
As the film entered its final act, I thought about what the strongest theme of the film could be since, as I stated before, the film is dripping with theme after theme. Children. Johnny may be a representation of all the ails that afflict parents when raising children. Johnny is unpredictable, vindictive, loving, curious, mean and bizarre. If you and your partner are thinking about bringing another life into this world or adopting, give “Spoonful of Sugar ” a watch. You’ll probably end up deciding on a vasectomy or tubal ligation before the credits roll.