Runtime: 94 minutes
Director: Mercedes Bryce Morgan
Writer: Leah Saint Marie
Actors: Morgan Saylor, Myko Olivier, Kat Foster, Danilo Crovetti
By Tom Moore
Director Mercedes Bryce Morgan’s latest film, “Spoonful of Sugar,” is a wild horror flick full of hallucinatory terror and interesting thematic moments surrounding motherhood, but ultimately is an experience that’s tough to fully connect with.
The film follows babysitter Millicent (Morgan Saylor) as she takes on a new job with a dysfunctional family. Husband Jacob (Myko Olivier) and wife Rebecca (Kat Foster) are going through some turbulent times in their marriage as they struggle to take care of their mute son Johnny (Danilo Crovetti), who also suffers from violent tantrums. Millicent isn’t without her own issues though and often uses LSD to escape from reality. So, as Millicent wants to help Johnny through his tantrums, she decides to add a drop of her LSD into his medication turning her simple babysitting gig into a sinister situation. As Millicent becomes more ingrained in the family, her own inner demons rise, and the family’s insecurities threaten to tear them apart.
“Spoonful of Sugar” lives up to its spicy name through some of the psychedelic erotic horror it provides in Millicent’s waning mental state, especially when LSD is involved. Once Millicent takes one drop of LSD, pretty much anything bizarre can happen. The severed finger of her therapist could crawl towards her and she could be seeing things that aren’t really happening. There’s definitely some imagery that’ll make your skin crawl, but it doesn’t even compare to Millicent’s sexual fantasies. With Millicent fantasizing about sexual experiences and going through a sexual awakening of her own, the film showcases some of the more twisted parts of her mind. There’s some demonic stuff going on that adds some bloody and gruesome elements to her pleasure that’s chilling to watch. Millicent is certainly not what people would expect on the surface and she’s much less innocent than she outwardly appears.
Millicent’s sexual craving only become more prevalent as the film goes on and it plays a big role in her descent into madness as well as her role in this family’s broken dynamic. Both Saylor and Foster deliver some great performances and as their sense of conflict grows throughout the film, they definitely elevate the tension and themes of “Spoonful of Sugar.” As Millicent becomes more embedded and impactful in Johnny’s life, it really gets under Rebecca’s skin. Millicent is sort of showing Rebecca up as a mother and it ends up leading both of them towards displaying more erratic behavior. There are some strong themes surrounding motherhood and the personal horror of someone else watching your kids that are definitely evoked in the Millicent and Rebecca’s growing conflict. It makes for some thought-provoking scenes of what it means to be a mother and the sexual tension between Millicent and Jacob can be downright scary at times.
All this tension builds towards a horrifying conclusion that sees Rebecca and Millicent at each other’s throats and ready to do what it takes to be seen as Johnny’s mother. Unfortunately, most of the film is tough to connect with because of how abstract its story feels. For most of the film, it’s hard to distinguish where things are going and outside of a few interesting scenes, “Spoonful of Sugar’s” bizarreness creates a disjointed experience. The dialogue and behavior of characters comes off strange, but not in a meaningful way. Because you’re left so unsure of what’s really happening, you don’t know what to exactly make of the film’s story and the horrors its presenting. There are definitely some memorable moments and ideas that make “Spoonful of Sugar” have some intrigue. But it ultimately struggles to be a consistently engaging experience and ends up having rough pacing and a weak hook.
“Spoonful of Sugar” has some compelling elements, mainly its wild horror sequences and two central performances, but it doesn’t do enough to keep viewers as engaged through its strongest moments to make a deep enough impact.