★★★★ out of ★★★★★
🩸🩸🩸 out of 🩸🩸🩸🩸🩸 for mild gore and a frayed family.
Directed by Mercedes Bryce Morgan.
Weird babysitter. Weird kid. Weird parents. A deeply weird connection to regular usage of LSD. And to top it off a weird poster. Spoonful of Sugar definitely traffics in the world of weird. Not Skinamarink weird mind you, but still firmly in the weird camp.
According to the fine production company Vanishing Angle, at its core Spoonful of Sugar is about “A disturbed babysitter experiences a sexual awakening while using LSD to alternatively treat a child from a family with dark secrets of their own.” That’s certainly where it starts, but definitely not where it ends.
The film is purposely bleak and is filmed in a washed-out style of hyper-saturated grey, blues, and an otherworldly muted palette. But at the core of this off-putting aesthetic is a very odd girl, Millicent (Morgan Saylor). She looks like Pippi Longstocking and acts in the same realm as an ethereal version of Tilda Swinton.
Millicent, or Millie, and her secrets are the center point of the film, but again, she’s not the only one with a checkered past. Millie seeks out a young couple Jacob (Myko Olivier) and his wife Rebecca (Kat Foster). This young and seemingly perfect family has a little boy who is several steps removed from perfect. He’s non-verbal and on, or near, the autism scale. His malady however manifests itself in small but punctuated bouts of violence.
The family unit is as frayed as can be. The dad, Jacob, is painted as a philandering louse, and his wife Rebecca, is a Mom obsessed with an unattainable vision of motherhood. Millie begins to bring an order and calmness to the tense and uncertain family dynamic. Turns out her calming demeanor may be coming courtesy of a daily dose(s) of LSD.
Millie too is frayed. She lives with her peculiar and obsessive foster dad played with pitch perfect sleaze by David Yow (singer of noise purveyors, Jesus Lizard). Millie’s new-age psychiatrist has determined that her life of trauma can be healed by constant LSD use, and Millie’s life appears to be on the mend. Thanks LSD.
As Millie and the family’s young boy Johnny (Danilo Crovetti) begin to bond in a series of strange but heart-felt exchanges, she decides what’s good for the goose has got to be good for the gander. Millie begins to regularly dose Johnny with her LSD stash and it works! His peculiarities begin to lessen and he begins to speak!
The final act of Spoonful of Sugar could either by the best 1980s “say no to drugs” after school special, or it could be used by new-age think-ologists as a campaign ad for the legalization of psychedelics. Both world views get ratcheted up and everyone’s secrets are on vivid and technicolor display.
Interestingly, even though LSD is a main driver in the film, there are very few scenes of true psychedelia. There’s a couple blurry bits, some mild tracers, and exchanges that don’t make much sense, but it’s not the blast into the ether that you’d expect. Quite the opposite, Mercedes Bryce Morgan instead opts to let the reality be weird. In this case reality isn’t weirder than fiction, it’s weirder than LSD.
If suburban right-wing parents thought drag show library events were threatening wait until they hear about LSD-wielding nannies!
Spoonful of Sugar is likely Rated R and streaming on Shudder.