Babysitter horror movies tend to overlap with kidnapping and home-invasion movies. But they’ve found their own special niche in horror because two innocent and vulnerable groups—both the babies and the sitters—are placed in harm’s way by malicious forces. It doesn’t matter whether those forces be human antagonists, supernatural entities, or even entirely in the victim’s head. Horror gets much of its power by juxtaposing the weak and vulnerable against remorseless forces of evil because at some point in our lives, we’ve all felt threatened and powerless.
There’s a special sub-genre of babysitter horror movies, though, which flip the script entirely and cast the babysitter as the evil force.
The following is a list of the best babysitter horror movies ever made. So make sure the baby is asleep, lock the doors, and ignore those scratching sounds at the window—it’s probably just a tree branch…
Amanda (Susan George) is a beautiful young blonde babysitter who takes a job one evening in a remote mansion in the British countryside. Over the night, a series of creepy occurrences lead her to the horrifying realization that the house is being stalked by the ex-husband of the baby’s mother, who has just escaped from an asylum after trying to kill the mother and strangle the baby. Roger Ebert says, “Because Susan George is awfully good at playing threatened, innocent, blond victims (cf. her rape scene in ‘Straw Dogs’), and because Ian Bannen makes a suitable maniacal and homicidal killer, ‘Fright’ is a passably good thriller.”
After viewing the 1976 John Carpenter film Assault on Precinct 13, a pair of movie producers approached Carpenter with an idea—they wanted him to write and direct a film about a terrorized babysitter. Carpenter agreed, and along with his ex-girlfriend Debra Hill, herself a former babysitter, they worked on a script about a man who had murdered his sister on Halloween night fifteen years prior, only to escape from the mental hospital, return to his town, and start stalking babysitters. And thus was born one of the most famous horror franchises of all time.
The Amityville Horror is based on the real-life story of Ronnie DeFeo, who murdered his entire family one night in 1974 at their house in the village of Amityville on Long Island. After another couple bought the house, they reported several disturbing incidents that suggested the house was haunted. The Amityville Horror involves a babysitter, but she’s not central to the plot—a some phantom demon locks her inside a bedroom closet as it terrorizes the house.
Based on an urban legend known as “the babysitter and the man upstairs,” When a Stranger Calls stars Carol Kane as Jill Johnson, who starts receiving harassing phone calls one night while babysitting a doctor’s children. She doesn’t realize until it’s too late that the caller is inside the house and has already murdered all the children. She escapes unharmed—if emotionally shattered—only for the killer to come back seven years later with the intent of killing her.
This made-for-TV movie came up with a new twist—it’s not the babysitter being terrorized; the babysitter is the terrorist. Stephanie Zimbalist stars as a mentally imbalanced young woman who takes on a babysitting gig while attempting to seduce the father (William Shatner) and enabling the mother (Patty Duke) to sink further into alcoholism. The Babysitter was said to be a huge influence on 1992’s The Hand That Rocks the Cradle as well as other non-babysitter-related films involving malicious females who seek to destroy domestic tranquility such as Fatal Attraction and Single White Female.
Three children who were born during the height of a solar eclipse return ten years later to start murdering people, including their family members. One night, a babysitter named Joyce agrees to sit a little boy named Timmy, completely unaware that she’s walking straight into a death trap. Two of the three murderous children attempt to shoot Joyce to death, while the third tries to strangle her using a jump rope.
American film production company New Line Cinema brought us this 80s slasher classic that involves four violent psychopaths escaping from a mental hospital. It is also a home invasion movie, as one of the psychopaths pretends to be the babysitter, until the real babysitter shows up.
In this babysitter horror movie co-written and directed by William Friedkin of The Exorcist fame, a young couple with a newborn child hires a nanny. But how were they to know that the nanny was actually an ancient tree nymph who kidnaps children and sacrifices them to an evil tree that thrives on the blood of the innocent?
Facing multiple charges of sexual abuse, a Seattle obstetrician kills himself, leaving his pregnant wife all alone and unable to fend for herself. Making matters worse, the trauma of his suicide causes her to miscarry. To enact vengeance against one of her husband’s accusers, she poses as a nanny for their family and slowly proceeds to destroy their lives.
In this made-for-TV horror film that was also released as When The Children Sleep, a woman named Abby is hired as a live-in babysitter. Shortly after she moves in, friends of the family start disappearing one by one. It slowly becomes apparent that the highly resentful Abby is plotting to harm the children’s mother because she wants to be their mother instead. This is yet another entry in the “evil babysitter” sub-genre.
A young and devoutly religious girl named Angie (Sarah Thompson) accepts a baby-sitting assignment at a rural farm after answering an ad placed on a college message board, only to wind up being terrorized by mysterious forces throughout the night. Film Critics United says, “Surprisingly effective would be my quick summation of ‘Babysitter Wanted’. The movie starts out in very familiar territory with such staples as an innocent girl, a freaky guy following her, and an immense over reliance on mood music but as the movie plays on, despite the fact it never really leaves familiar town, it just draws you in its story.”
A young college student named Samantha accepts a babysitting job on the night of a full lunar eclipse. Over the course of the night, she realizes that her clients weren’t who they portrayed themselves to be and that there is no baby in the house to sit. Rather than sitting and watching TV eating popcorn while the (nonexistent) children sleep, Samantha winds up in a life-or-death struggle for her own survival.
In this horror-comedy, a young woman accepts a babysitting job from an unknown couple without realizing how creepy and downright terrifying the couple’s children are. When she invites friends over to keep her company, she invites them into a world of trouble. Bloody Disgusting says that Baby-Sitting “has all the sophistication of an Tarantino flick with all the blood of a Fulci film….The whole movie works because the actors are extremely convincing and the comedy that is laced in between is very smart and well timed.”
A very clever twist on the babysitter-horror genre in which a babysitter finds a VHS tape containing three separate short movies in which a psychotic clown named Art murders people. The babysitter puts the kids to sleep after they all watch Art’s first murder, then watches the final two films herself…then she realizes she’s in the last film and that Art is suddenly in the house, having murdered the two children she’s babysitting and gunning for her next.
After losing one of their friends to murder, a group of six babysitters suspect they’re being stalked by a killer who murders young women on Halloween—which, based on other movies on this list, appears to be a babysitter’s favorite night to kill. The film inspired three sequels, all of them funded via Kickstarter: Babysitter Massacre II: Slay Belles, Babysitter Massacre III: Overnight and Babysitter Massacre IV: Heavy Metal.
A babysitter named Kylie Winters—who hates herself due to constant bullying—agrees to babysit at a rural mansion on…wait for it…Halloween night. When a boy in a pig mask comes knocking at the door, he’s looking for more than candy. Tales of Terror gave it a mixed review: “This is a simple film, and it’s pretty much everything horror fans love. The drawback, on the other hand, is that you might not remember a thing about it a month from now.”
In yet another iteration of the “evil babysitter” sub-genre, a girl named Emelie is hired by a couple to replace their current babysitter, who has mysteriously gone missing. The couple is unaware that Amelie and an accomplice had kidnapped their previous babysitter. They are also unaware that Emelie’s middle name is Medea, who was a character in Greek mythology who killed her own children. Throughout the course of the night, Amelie and her male accomplice put the children through all kinds of creepy motions that are better left unmentioned. Reel Film gave it a mixed review: “Emelie palpably runs out of steam long before arriving at its anticlimactic finale – thus cementing the film’s place as a promising yet half-baked endeavor that surely would’ve worked better as a short.”
Originally titled Safe Neighborhood, his is basically Home Alone, but with a babysitter at the house to protect the young boy from malicious burglars. All of the action takes place during one night at one house. Bloody Disgusting calls it “a hilariously bonkers home invasion tale” and a “pitch-black horror comedy….It contains everything that you like in a movie and satisfies you from beginning to end.”
A babysitter named Helen tries to reassure little Lucas that he’s only imagining that the boogeyman lives in his closet—until she realizes that Lucas is right. It turns out that the boogeyman suffers from some rare disease that compels him to kidnap children, murder them, and eat their eyeballs. Bloody Disgusting says that “‘Child Eater’ is a frightening, passionate horror film that has fun creating its own monster and is sure to whet your appetite.”
In this 13-minute short film, a woman fills in for her friend one night to do a babysitting job, then regrets she ever made that decision. Atomic Age Renegades praised the movie: “Feeding Time is a quirky short film that does an incredible job of grabbing the attention of the audience beginning with a peculiar encounter and ending with a mystery. The plot may not be completely original but the long shots and eerie music create suspense and make for an interesting watch.”
A young boy named Cole is relentlessly bullied by a male neighbor, but his babysitter—a seemingly innocent woman named Bee—comes rushing to his defense. What Cole doesn’t realize is that Bee is a member of a Satanic cult who has signed a deal with the Devil. Her specialty is staking young boys to kill them—and Cole is next on her list. Also released as Night of the Babysitter.
Seeking to rob a wealthy occultist, a female scammer named Amber (Elyse Dufour) poses as a babysitter. But she didn’t expect that one of the children she’s sitting is also an occultist or that the child will summon a group of witches known as the Three Mothers. Horror DNA noted the film’s debt to Italian giallo horror: “The color palette is wholly unoriginal and perfectly okay for all that. It’s a clear nod to Dario Argento’s Suspiria or Deep Red, soaked in garish reds, deep blues, and eerie greens.”
In this made-for-TV movie, nurse named Daphne is still traumatized that she lost her job due to a doctor’s negligence. She accepts a babysitting gig, which goes well for the first few nights—until she realizes she’s locked inside a house with a serial killer. That Darn Girl Movie writes, “This movie is truly creepy….Watch this one with some of your lights on.”
In this sequel to 2017’s The Babysitter, young Cole finds himself a high-school bullying victim who is still being tormented by demons from the past. Den of Geek slammed the film: “If The Babysitter was…an unfunny homage to 1980s teen slasher comedies, The Babysitter: Killer Queen doubles down on being unfunny and ramping up all that was wrong the first time around, including some of the broadest, most irritating ensemble acting we’ve endured in this or any other year.”