Night of the Caregiver (2023) Review
Night of the Caregiver sounds like a Lifetime movie about a psycho home health aid. It’s actually a new supernatural horror film from producer Alexander Nevsky (Moscow Heat, Showdown in Manila) and director/co-star Joe Cornet (Gunfight at Rio Bravo, A Prayer for the Damned) two men better known for Westerns and action films than scary stuff. Can they successfully make the switch?
Julia Rowe (Natalie Denise Sperl, Altergeist, Naked Surrender) has been taken an assignment as an in home caregiver for Lillian Gresham (Eileen Dietz, 100 Acres of Hell, A Wakefield Project), a sweet old lady who, of course, lives in the middle of nowhere. It’s Friday night but, “It pays really well, more for one night than I make in a week”, which should also be a red flag.
And we know something isn’t right due to the prologue that gives way to a scene from “13 hours earlier” where Detective Roman Eckhart (Joe Cornet), of the NYPD, currently visiting California on his own time, interviews Dr. King (Eric Roberts, Escape Through Africa, The Rideshare Killer) an expert on parapsychology.
Writer Craig Hamann (My Best Friend’s Birthday, Dollman vs. Demonic Toys) and director Cornet get Night of the Caregiver off to the start you would expect. Lillian is charming but evasive about why she needs a home nurse and refuses to have her vitals taken. It’s restated just how remote the house is, the lights start flickering and the house’s decor is distinctly odd.
Much of the film is a two character piece, with Julia hearing odd sounds or sensing she’s not alone while we see a clawed hand reaching for her and Lillian denying there’s anyone else there or that she notices anything strange. If we didn’t see that hand this could be played off as possibly Julia’s mind playing tricks due to lack of sleep, she did come there straight from her shift at the hospital.
But we do see it, and we do know something is there. The problem is, whatever it is, it’s in no rush to actually do something more than make doors creak. When it finally makes an appearance on our heroine’s phone and causes it to die that’s the first actual scare in the film, and things do pick up a bit after that.
Just because the pace picks though, doesn’t mean Night of the Caregiver actually gets better. The filmmakers seem to have no feel for the genre, and even cinematographer Sam Wilkerson’s (My (unauthorized) Hallmark Movie Musical, What’s Your Problem?!) prowling camera can’t produce any sense of danger. Things just sort of plod along to a revelation around the hour mark that you’ll have seen coming long before, followed by a long expository monologue.
The film’s effects are a mixed bag. The demon hand we keep seeing looks good, but when we see its head that’s obviously a cheap mask with glowing eyes. There’s a neck would that looks passable apart from the CGI blood spurts. A later clawing by the demon is represented by nothing but blood smears.
One bright spot among all the complaints, Night of the Caregiver claims to run an hour and seventeen minutes but the story ends after sixty-five minutes. That’s followed by an epilogue that consists of five minutes of pointless padding and a five-second “scary” shot that you’ll be expecting. And then seven minutes of credits. But this should have been over even before that, it’s like a half-hour Night Gallery episode dragged out to twice that length.
ITN will give Night of the Caregiver a theatrical and VOD release on August 15th, before releasing it on DVD and to Digital Platforms this fall.