Title: The Baby-Sitter
Author: R.L. Stine
Published: July 1989
Tagline: Every step she takes, he’ll be watching.
Description: A stranger in the night.
From the minute Jenny accepted the Hagen baby-sitting job, she knew she had made a mistake.
First there was the dark and disheveled Hagen house, moaning and groaning with her every step. Then the crank phone calls started. “Hi, Babes. Are you all alone? Company’s coming.” When Jenny discovered a creepy neighbor prowling in the backyard and a threatening note in her backpack, she realized this wasn’t a harmless game.
But who would want to hurt her? What kind of maniac wanted to scare Jenny . . . to death?
WHY DOES R.L. STINE THINK THAT “BABES” IS A THING?! NO ONE HAS EVER SAID THAT! IT’S NOT JUST THESE BOOKS, EITHER, IT BLED OVER TO FEAR STREET, ARGH!
Happy September theme month! I ran a poll back in July asking people what theme they’d like to see for this month, and “babysitters in peril” won by a landslide. I’d already done a babysitters theme month a few years ago, but fortunately it’s a popular trope and therefore I have plenty of media to draw from. Hell, even after doing two theme months of babysitters, I haven’t run out of “babysitters in danger” books.
I decided to kick off the theme month with Stine, because for better or worse, this book seems to be the flagship for the trope. For the 80s/90s teen thriller novels, I mean. Obviously if we’re talking overall, movies like Halloween or When a Stranger Calls beat this book out by a decade. Stine’s The Baby-Sitter isn’t the best the genre has to offer, but it’s become one of the most iconic, much to my annoyance.
Wait, why am I starting with this one, then? Partly to get it out of the way so I can move on to the books I actually like and think deserve a showcase more than our friend Bob does, and partly because this book actually is nostalgic for me. Stine was impossible to get away from during this era, and I remember reading this one as a youngster. It was the first “babysitter in peril” media I was exposed to, and it stuck in my head.
Bob really thinks that everyone screams like “YAAAIII!”
(Judging from when I had the phone number written there, I read this for the first time when I was 10 or 11. Also, clock the super 1990’s use of “NOT!” Look, I was ten. I clearly thought I was as funny as Bob thought he was writing this book. My excuse is, I was ten. Not sure what his is.)
We start off with Jenny riding the bus at night with her best friend, Laura. Jenny stares out the window, and we know her first personality trait is “overactive imagination” because she thinks she sees a deer darting through the hedges. It’s a rock. Okay, Jenny.
Laura is annoyed because Jenny isn’t listening to her yammering on about boys, and she asks Jenny why she’s so nervous – it’s not like she hasn’t babysat before. Jenny replies that it’s new people, a strange house, a strange neighborhood; there’s a lot she could worry about if she puts her mind to it. That’s supposed to be a joke, but Laura doesn’t laugh, and Jenny reflects that they’ve been friends so long that they don’t need to laugh at each other’s jokes.
Or maybe you’re just not that funny, Jenny.
Jenny goes on to enumerate the many things to be nervous about – maybe the kid’s a monster; maybe the parents are weird; maybe they’re cult members who lock her up in the basement when she finds out; maybe the house is haunted by the ghost of a young girl who Jenny gets possessed by after accidentally releasing her from the attic. At least one of these scenarios is pretty close to what happens in one of the sequels to this book.
Laura doesn’t even bother to be sarcastic about any of this, because she knows by now that there’s no way to stop Jenny from dreaming up these crazy things. Mmkay, Laura. She thinks she spots someone she knows and leans over Jenny to lower the window to yell out at him. This embarrasses Jenny because reasons. She thinks Laura is always embarrassing her, because apparently everything anyone does ever is directed at Jenny.
Jenny spends a couple paragraphs comparing herself to Laura. Laura: tiny, curly blonde hair, looks like a model. Jenny: average height, boyish figure, straight brown hair. Laura has told Jenny not to put herself down because she looks like “that actress” Demi Moore. It always amuses me when these authors treat household names like they’re someone you might have vaguely heard of once or twice. Now maybe this is down to it being 1989 and Demi Moore not being an actual household name yet, but he’s also done this with Molly Ringwald. In the late 80s. Yeah.
Anyway, it turns out the guy Laura is screaming out the window at wasn’t the guy she thought it was. Whoops. She is completely unfazed by this, while Jenny and I cringe. Then Laura asks if Jenny is going to go out with Chuck. He’s a new guy, but already known as the class clown. Jenny calls him both a goof and a nutcase, because why not start in with the shitty attitudes toward mental illness early. Then we get a quick picture of Chuck’s comedic accomplishments: he put hardboiled egg slices over his eyes at lunch. This was apparently a riot, according to Laura. He “dissected” a rubber chicken in biology class. Hilarious. He pretended to be deaf to troll a substitute, and kept trying to talk to her in phony sign language. Do I even need to explain why this is not okay? I feel like if you’ve been around this site a while, you can probably guess my feelings about this.
So yeah. Chuck. What a fucking guy.
Jenny thinks Chuck would probably embarrass her, or try to be funny whenever they went out and just bore her, but she admits if he asks her out again, she might say yes. No, Jenny. Trust your first instinct. Leave that boy in the trash.
Talk turns to some exposition about Jenny’s babysitting job – she’ll be sitting for six-year-old Donny Hagen on Thursdays and Saturdays. She met him at the mall when he ran off from his parents and almost fell in the fountain trying to fish his toy truck out. She also keeps going on about what a beautiful little boy he is, which is . . . a little weird. Step away from the small child, Jenny. Anyway, when his parents finally catch up to them, they offered her a babysitting job after Donny asked if he could bring Jenny home with him. I’m waiting for the book about adult Donny taking teenage girls home and locking them in his basement after meeting them at the mall.
Laura gets off the bus, leaving Jenny to look at the time and fret that she’s going to be late. It’s already 7:25, and she’s supposed to be there at 7:30. She thinks that she’ll have to leave earlier on Saturday. I guess Jenny lives in a town with good public transportation. In my city, the buses only run every hour. If you catch the bus “earlier,” you’d basically be an hour early for everything. Which would probably be preferable to showing up late on your first night.
When she gets off the bus, Jenny still has several blocks to walk before getting to the Hagens’ house. It’s a rundown Victorian that she thinks looks like something out of a horror movie. I’m on board immediately, but Jenny hates it because she sucks. She’s also fifteen minutes late, which is not a good thing to be.
The doorbell doesn’t work, so Jenny has to pound on the door. Mr. Hagen ushers her in, apparently not angry she’s late. He frets around her, asking if she’s warm enough in her jacket, and did she have trouble finding the place? Then he offers to take her jacket upstairs to put it in the bedroom closet because the door to the coat closet is jammed. Jenny thinks he seems a lot more nervous and high-strung than he had at the mall, when his small child was missing for twenty minutes. Somehow I doubt this.
Jenny describes Mr. Hagen to us – tall, broad, powerfully built, dark crew-cut hair, small grey eyes. For some reason, I’d always kind of pictured The Stepfather-era Terry O’Quinn, even though the physical description doesn’t really match. Now, after rereading that description, I can’t stop picturing John Cena.
Mrs. Hagen shows up after her husband disappears (we can’t see him! . . . because I’m picturing Cena . . . never mind, I’ll show myself out) and asks where Mike went. So now we know Mr. Hagen’s first name. Jenny tells us that Mrs. Hagen is tall and thin, sort of homey and down-to-earth looking, and I misread that as “homely” at first and thought Jenny was being a rude little shit. Mrs. Hagen has short, curly brown hair and wears rimless glasses that hide her large brown eyes. I’m not sure how rimless glasses would hide your eyes, but this is Bob Stine we’re talking about, the man who seems to think some people have naturally crimped hair, so.
Mrs. Hagen isn’t put out by Jenny being so late, either, and apologizes for how nervous Mr. Hagen is. He’s apparently a natural worrywart. She tells Jenny that Donny is in the den watching Ghostbusters for the six hundredth time, and he says it’s awesome. Mrs. Hagen then goes into a linguistics lecture, saying how interesting it is to her that the six-years-olds pick up on the trendy words about two years after they go out of fashion. Was awesome out of fashion in 1989? I mean, I feel like it never went out of fashion. Anyway, she goes on to say that she keeps waiting for Donny to call something “groovy,” but she guesses that one passed him by. I dunno, just show him a bunch of reruns of The Monkees, I’m sure he’ll pick “groovy” right up. Worked for me!
They walk through the house to the den, passing by mismatched furniture that came with the house, and Donny couldn’t give a shit that Jenny is there. He’s engrossed in the movie. Venkman is about to “get it.” Huh. At least it’s not at the part where Stantz is about to get his ghost blow job. That would be awkward.
Mr. Hagen comes in and tells Donny he has to go to bed right after the movie, then backpedals when Donny whines that he hasn’t had a chance to play. Okay, but he has to listen to Jenny. Then he apologizes for not having time to show Jenny around (this is why you want to show up early for babysitting jobs), but Donny can give her the grand tour when the movie’s over.
He does let her know a number they can be reached at, and to by all means keep the door locked, especially since there’s someone running around attacking babysitters. It’s been in the news. Also, hilariously, he tells her that Donny can show her how to operate the VCR if she wants to watch a tape, as if teenagers in the 80s didn’t know how to work the VCR. Sir. Please.
Then the Hagens leave without bothering to go over the house rules, bedtime, food allergies, or any other important knowledge a babysitter might need. Stine, you keep telling me what a nervous father Mr. Hagen is, but none of his actions suggest he wants to make sure his kid is competently looked after.
Jenny sits down behind Donny so she can drool over his beautiful shiny white-blond hair, because Stine is obsessed with people having white-blond hair. She mentions that he’s only sitting a few inches away from the TV, but he tells her he’s allowed, and I guess we’re just believing the tiny child. As soon as he realizes his parents have left, he asks if he can have a candy bar. There’s a paragraph break then, so we never learn if Jenny gave in and gave it to him. She probably did. Jenny is a pushover.
She gets Donny to bed with surprisingly little trouble (this trend will not continue), then roams the house wondering why people want to live in 200-year-old houses. Oh, fuck off, Jenny. Old houses are cool. She’s annoyed by the sounds the grandfather clock (which for some reason Stine keeps referring to as a “grandfather’s clock”) makes, and I think this clock is Jenny’s tell-tale heart. She hears it no matter where she is in the house. She’ll probably carry the sound with her wherever she goes throughout the rest of her life.
She gets scared by a loud bang before remembering a loose shutter she’d noticed earlier. She wanders around some more, and sees an ugly old moose head mounted above the fireplace. I haven’t recapped it yet, but that’s an Easter egg for anyone who’s read Stine’s Blind Date. She gets bent out of shape some more over the damn clock ticking, and then something grabs her leg! Oh no, it’s the ghost she imagined haunts the house!
No, it’s just the cat. The cat that the Hagens didn’t mention owning. DO I HAVE TO FEED THE CAT? DO I HAVE TO MAKE SURE NOT TO LET THE CAT OUTSIDE? WHY DIDN’T YOU GIVE ME ANY INFORMATION I NEED TO TAKE CARE OF THE LIVING BEINGS IN YOUR HOME, HAGENS?
Jenny worries that her scream woke up Donny, so she goes to check on him and marvels how angelic he looks. Then she considers waking him up so he can keep her company so she’ll be less freaked out. Jenny. No. What the fuck is wrong with you.
Jenny gets a snack and considers staying in the kitchen, which is the only room in the house that’s been remodeled and updated, but the stools are uncomfortable so she goes back to the den. She picks up a newspaper and sees a headline about the third attack on a babysitter, so she drops the paper like it’s hot. She remembers throwing a book in her backpack, but oh, it’s a Stephen King novel, and she doesn’t want to scare herself any more than she already is. Hmm. If we’re assuming a new King novel, 1989 would have been The Dark Half. However, I’d like to think it’s The Tommyknockers from 1987. The only danger there would be dying of boredom! (I love King, but I could not make it more than 200 pages into The Tommyknockers. I tried multiple times.)
Jenny hears footsteps and scares herself silly thinking that someone has broken in. The footsteps are coming from the stairs, AND THIS DUMB BITCH LITERALLY FORGOT THAT SHE WASN’T ALONE IN THE HOUSE. THE HOUSE THAT SHE IS A BABYSITTER IN. Because of course it’s Donny coming downstairs because he’s thirsty. I want to repeat – Jenny FORGOT that she wasn’t alone in the house. I’m not exaggerating here, she fucking tells us that she forgot there was a small child in the house with her. Why . . . why did she think she was in these strangers’ home, then? What if there had been a fire and she had to flee the house? Would she have remembered the helpless sleeping six-year-old then?
Jenny. What the fuck, Jenny.
Jenny thinks that Donny deliberately wanted to scare her, and he giggles that maybe he likes scaring babysitters. Then he rejects apple juice because he brushed his teeth and that makes apple juice taste funny. He’ll take milk instead. I mean, first of all, the teeth brushing must have been at least an hour ago, I’m pretty sure that’s not going to be a factor at this point, but even if it were, wouldn’t it make your milk taste funny, too? Minty? Minty milk? Gross.
For the record, I never used to know what people meant when they said orange juice is awful after brushing your teeth. It always tasted fine to me. After some investigation, I now understand the science behind why toothpaste supposedly makes OJ taste bad (tl;dr version: the ingredient in toothpaste that makes it foamy fucks with your tastebuds’ ability to taste sweetness and amplifies the ability to taste bitterness), I’ve just never experienced it. Apparently I’m in the minority here.
Donny gets his milk, then refuses to go back to bed unless Jenny tucks him in again. He then demands a goodnight kiss. And then a story. He likes scary stories. Jenny tries to argue that that wasn’t the deal, but then gives in, thinking there’s probably no use in arguing with him. The child. The six-year-old. So I guess if he wants to play in traffic or stick his dick in the blender, she’ll let him do that, too.
So she tells him a story about a little boy who likes to scare his babysitters. The content of the story isn’t important here, except for the end. The babysitter in the story decides to get revenge on the little boy for scaring her. Jenny is practically whispering the story into Donny’s ear, and when she gets to the end, where the babysitter scares the little boy, she screams, “BOOOOOOOOOOO!” into Donny’s ear as loud as she can.
Yes, that’s how you get a child to fall asleep. By screaming at them. Well done, Jenny.
Donny loves it and demands she tell the story again, but shockingly Jenny says no and sticks to it. As Jenny heads back downstairs, she’s proud of what a good babysitter she is because of her amazing story, and I just snorted so hard I think I ruptured something. I’m sending you my hospital bill, Stine.
Someone knocks on the door, scaring Jenny, and she thinks it sounds like a burglar. Really. Really, Jenny. Isn’t the whole point of burgling to do it without alerting people to your presence? (Yes, okay, so when I was two years old a couple guys came by the house, knocked, and then almost immediately began attempting to kick the door in, but I’m not sure I would use the actual word “burglar” for them. Also, relax, it was fine. As soon as they heard me yelling for my mom, they realized the house wasn’t empty after all and ran away. This has left me with a lifelong jumpiness regarding noises outside the house, but otherwise everything was fine.)
Anyway, idiot Jenny imagines someone dressed like the goddamn Hamburglar standing on the porch. I just fucking can’t with this girl. Then she thinks it’s the guy going around attacking babysitters. Then she thinks it’s the police coming to tell her there’s been a toxic waste spill outside the house. Well, call some people over, Jenny. Maybe you’ll all get turned into the Toxic Avenger or something.
There’s no peephole or chain, or apparently any window she can see the porch from, so she just starts asking who’s there. No one responds, which is infuriating. She finally opens the door to see a short but powerfully-built man in a plaid lumberjack shirt. Very specific. We couldn’t just say a flannel shirt. Because you specifically said lumberjack, I’m picturing the Brawny paper towel man. Not the new hot one. One from at least twenty years ago. Anyway, he also has out-of-control caterpillar eyebrows, so maybe it’s just Andy Rooney cosplaying as Paul Bunyan.
The man at the door is surprised to see Jenny, and demands to know who she is. Just slam the door in his face, Jenny. You shouldn’t have opened it in the first place. She tells him she’s the babysitter, he tells her he’s the neighbor, Willers. He says he thought Mike and Mary were home tonight, and Jenny tells him no, they go out on Thursday nights. JENNY. To her credit, she immediately realizes how stupid it was to tell him that. He says he thought he saw a prowler, did Jenny hear anything? Can he come in and take a look around? Uh, no to both questions, my dude. Fuck. Then he says he’ll be nearby. He’s always nearby. Jenny wonders if that’s a threat, and closes the door a little harder than she meant to. That’s fine, he’s being creepy, he’ll survive a slammed door.
Then a hand touches Jenny’s shoulder and she screams “YAAAAAIIII!”
That’s right. Five “A”s and four “I”s. All caps. Has Bob ever heard a person scream before? Because that is not even close to a sound people make when they scream in surprise. That’s not even a Wilhelm scream. I have no idea what Stine is trying to accomplish here.
Oh, right, it’s just Donny again. He’s thirsty. Again.
At least it wasn’t a pointless cliffhanger chapter end. This time.
Cut to the next day, after school. Jenny and Laura are at the Pizza Oven, eating pizza that Laura doubts has real cheese on it, since she saw a report about artificial cheese. This is fascinating stuff, guys. Laura drools over some random hot guy and announces that she might break up with her boyfriend of two weeks because she’s bored with him and Bob Tanner asked her out, and oh my god I don’t care.
Laura asks if Jenny is keeping the babysitting job, and Jenny kind of feels like she has to, since the Hagens are paying her five whole dollars an hour, and Jenny needs the money to buy Christmas presents and help out her mom. Adjusted for inflation, five dollars in 1989 money would be $10.81 today. I mean, not bad, but not great. (I have no idea what average babysitting rates are. *shrug*) Jenny tries to convince Laura, and herself, that the job isn’t bad, and so what if the house and the neighbor are creepy? She goes on to call Mr. Hagen a basket case, because he worries about Donny and asked Jenny several times on the drive home if things went all right. Yeah, how weird that he worries about leaving his kid with a total stranger.
And now we reach a point that makes me want to throw things.
A voice asks if they saved him any pepperoni, and Chuck slides out from under their table. He claims he was down there looking up their dresses, and when it’s pointed out that they’re not wearing dresses, he goes on to say that huh, he doesn’t know what he was doing down there, then. Jenny, absolutely mortified, asks how long he’s been down there, and he replies since Tuesday, he thinks. Then he jumps up and squeezes into the booth next to Jenny, trapping her there, throws his arm around her, and picks up the remains of her pizza slice, claiming it’s a memento of their first date and he’s going to paste it into his “memory book.” Then he shoves the goddamn pizza crust into the pocket of his jeans.
Can we kill Chuck? Like, pretty please? He’s just awful.
Laura abandons Jenny to Chuck, and he takes the pizza crust out of his pocket and eats it. I . . . can’t. What the fuck is wrong with this boy?
Jenny is finally able to convince him to move across the booth from her, then asks him where he moved from as a test, to see if this idiot can take anything seriously. When he tells her he and his dad moved here from Mars, she’s just about done. Oh, but wait, that would be Mars, Pennsylvania. It’s a real place. On Earth.
They makes jokes about ordering a pizza each to the waitress, who takes them seriously, and Chuck has to chase her down to cancel since Jenny doesn’t have any money. Uhhh . . . then how are you going to pay for the pizza you’ve already eaten, Jenny? Did Laura take care of that? Anyway, he stops to talk to everyone on his way back to the booth, and Jenny thinks it’s amazing how he already knows everyone. Sure, whatever.
He asks her if she’s busy Saturday night, and when she says yes, he jokes that he is, too! Fuck. Off. Chuck. Then Jenny explains about the babysitting and asks if he was really asking her out, and then I want to murder Chuck again because he starts suggesting he come over while Jenny sits, and pretends like she’s saying yes even while she’s literally shouting NO at him. She gets fed up with this, wondering why he’s being such an ass again after acting like a decent person for a couple minutes, and storms off. He asks what about her pizza, and she tells him to stick it in his memory book, then is pleased at coming up with such a good burn. Eh. I can think of better places for him to shove it, but sure, Jenny.
Jenny’s late for her next night of babysitting, this time because the bus had a flat tire and they had to wait for another bus to come pick them up. Jenny is annoyed that the driver couldn’t change the tire because it’s against union rules. Uh, have you ever looked at a bus? I don’t think your driver can just jack it up and change the tire like it’s a goddamn Ford Focus, Jenny. Fuck. Mr. Hagen tells her she ought to leave earlier, and I still don’t know what the public transportation situation looks like in whatever town this is, because in my town you would literally have to leave a whole hour earlier to catch an earlier bus, but okay. I’ll have to assume these buses run more frequently than once an hour.
While Mr. Hagen takes Jenny’s coat upstairs again, Mrs. Hagen explains that he’s just been very nervous lately, and could Jenny not trouble him with any small things going wrong in the house? Thanks so much, bless. They leave to go to a “very boring party,” and they’ve left the number for her in the kitchen. So at least they’re doing the bare minimum of instructing the babysitter. Donny could still be deathly allergic to Cheerios and we’d never know, though.
Donny wants to play hide and seek, Jenny says no, so they end up playing hide and seek. As Jenny walks around the house, seeking, she thinks that she really needs to learn to tell Donny no. Gee, you fucking think so?
Jenny wanders into a second sitting room full of furniture covered in sheets, dust, and cobwebs. She flings one of the sheets into the air, thinking Donny might be under it, but only discovers the joy of launching a two-inch-thick layer of dust into the air.
Eventually Donny comes flying out of the ironing board closet, and this time around, Jenny’s “YAAAAAIIIIII!” has five “A”s and six motherfucking “I”s. I hate Robert Lawrence Stine with every fiber of my being. Also, when I was a kid, we lived in a house that had one of those ironing board cabinets, and there was no way a human, even a tiny one, could fit inside unless you ripped the actual ironing board out of the wall. Even then, only Flat fucking Stanley would fit in there. Fuck off, Bob.
Donny thinks that scaring Jenny like this was the most greatest, amazingest thing ever, and refuses to go to bed until she reads him three books, plays with his stuffed animals, gives him a bowl of corn flakes, and brings him three glasses of apple juice. Okay, have fun when he pisses the bed from all the goddamn juice, Jenny.
After she finally gets this insufferable little brat into bed and is headed down the stairs, the phone rings. It’s a breather, and for some reason Jenny thinks the call is coming from inside the house, so she sets the receiver down and tiptoes back upstairs to Donny’s room, where she sees him holding his phone to his ear.
So, the six-year-old has a phone in his room? Why? I was ten before I was allowed my own phone.
Jenny screams at him, and he bursts into tears. Yeah. Fair. She notices that the phone has buttons for a second line, and thinks it was probably left by the previous owners, and also that this means Donny could have made the call. Okay. Would a six-year-old know how to do that, and wouldn’t the Hagens have to be paying for a second line in order for that to even be an option?
Donny cries that he just picked the phone up because it woke him up, and Jenny only hears a dial tone when she rips the receiver out of his hands. Nope. Not if the phone downstairs is off the hook. There would either be silence, or that annoying beep-beep-beep that goes on for a while before you get the voice telling you if you’d like to make a call, you need to hang up and try again. Look, I remember landlines, okay, and this is one of those things in media that has always annoyed the fuck out of me. How hard is it to be accurate about these simple fucking things?
Out of all the things in this book, I wasn’t expecting to rage about the way landlines work. Huh. Thanks, Bob!
Through some miracle Jenny gets Donny back to sleep, then goes downstairs and hangs the phone up. It rings immediately, and this time it’s a scary caller. He says “Hi Babes,” asks her if she’s all alone, then tells her company’s coming. This might be creepy if it weren’t part of the back-of-book description. Or if I cared at all about any of this.
Jenny runs through a mental list of what types of people make crank calls like this, and lands on Chuck. Then dismisses him, because all of his joking around is good natured. Uh.
I mean, this is the guy who mocked HoH people by pretending to be deaf, then joked about sexually harassing Jenny and Laura, then refused to acknowledge Jenny telling him no.
What part of this is good natured again?
Jenny then settles on Willers-the-neighbor, and decides to call the police, but then is afraid that the police will dismiss her because they’ll somehow know of her overactive imagination. She decides to brave it anyway, but when she reaches for the phone, it “explodes” in her hand.
Jesus Christ, I wish it fucking would.
She screams “YAAAAAIII!” again, back to five “A”s and only three “I”s, and then for some reason Bob feels it necessary to inform us that the phone wasn’t really exploding, it was only ringing again.
GEE THANKS BOB, I THOUGHT MAYBE THE UNIBOMBER FUCKING GOT HER AND THIS GODDAMN BOOK WAS OVER.
It’s just Mr. Hagen calling to check in. He was concerned that it took Jenny so long to answer, so she tells him she was in the bathroom, then kicks herself at not coming up with a better excuse. He mentions that Donny looks like an angel but can be a real devil, and Jenny has apparently never heard of hyperbole because she stops to wonder if he really means it; is Donny really capable of evil?
Why did I tell everyone I was going to recap this book? If I hadn’t advertised that fact, I could just walk away, whistling innocently, and no one would be the wiser. Fuck.
Jenny wanders back into the living room and spots a photo of Donny, then realizes it’s not Donny after all – it’s a little girl. She jumps immediately to realizing that it’s Donny’s sister . . . no, it was Donny’s sister. The sister must be dead. I mean, she turns out to be right, but why is that her first thought? Why wouldn’t she assume it was a cousin or something?
She thinks this explains why Mr. Hagen is so nervous about Donny’s wellbeing. I mean, not nervous enough to give the babysitter any instructions regarding his wellbeing, but whatever. She looks out the window and sees four or five squirrels holding paws and dancing in a circle on the lawn. Oh, no, wait, it’s just leaves blowing in the wind. Jenny’s hallucinations make her quirky, y’all.
Then she sees a car parked in front of the house with the shadow of a person moving in the front seat, but she beats me to mocking her imagination by thinking it’s probably just a tree stump. Jenny, this is no fun for me when you beat me to the jokes. Stop it.
Then we cut to Jenny having pancakes with her mom and complaining that all the food is going to make her weigh three hundred pounds. But then she complains that she’s going to be skinny and flat-chested for the rest of her life, so . . . you know I love the smell of pointless fat-shaming in the morning!
I don’t care about any of this pointless conversation. Mom teases Jenny about Chuck, then reveals that he called looking for her, and Mom gave him the Hagens’ number. And address. I mean, this was during the era when both those things could easily be attained through looking in the phone book, but giving them out like this seems kinda fucked up. I see where Jenny gets her decision-making skills.
Naturally this leads Jenny to wonder again if Chuck made the threatening call. Yawn. Then Jenny asks what Mom would think if she quit the babysitting job, and Mom thinks if it’s not actually too much for Jenny then she should stick with it, both for the money and because not sticking with things is a bad habit Jenny should break. Well, sure, but sometimes you shouldn’t stick with things. Like abusive relationships, or jobs that are literally going to kill you.
Jenny goes to the mall with Laura, I struggle to give a fuck, Jenny calls press-on nails gross. Awfully judgmental for someone who thought some leaves were a bunch of squirrels doing a full-on choreographed dance routine, Jenny. Oh, and Laura doesn’t think Chuck is the threatening caller, because he’s a teddy bear with a little-boy face and freckles. Okay, so we’re definitely going to be finding Laura’s mutilated corpse in a shallow grave in a couple years.
They go into a store that is apparently all socks, called Sock City, as Laura talks about her love life. It seems she thinks standing her boyfriend up is kinder than breaking up with him, and he’ll get the hint. Uh, no. No to all of that.
Hey, guess who fucking shows up? That’s right, it’s Chuck! *sarcastic jazz hands* (It’s been established in a previous recap that my sarcastic jazz hands may just be me sticking my middle fingers up, so do with that what you will.)
Jenny wants to run, but Chuck apologizes for being obnoxious at the pizza place. Then immediately ruins it by asking when he should come over Thursday after Jenny accepts his apology by saying “it’s okay.” Instead of strangling him with a tube sock, she laughs. No, Jenny. No.
Chuck makes obnoxious jokes and does sock puppets, then asks the manager if they take Confederate money when he asks Chuck if he’s going to buy the socks he’s fucking around with. I just . . . what? Why Confederate money, Chuck? Why is that your joke?
They leave the store; Laura abandons Jenny to Chuck yet again; Jenny and Chuck go to a claymation festival at the movie theater. Jenny thinks Chuck is just shy (. . . what?), and realizes she really likes him. Even though she’s still wondering if he made the threatening phone call.
I mean, you could just ask. Just ask him if he prank called you. Because Chuck is an obnoxious piece of shit, but if he made that call, 100% it was a terrible joke and not an actual threat.
And now we’re back to Jenny’s next babysitting job. Sigh.
Naturally she’s letting Donny dictate bedtime. She’s played games with him and told him stories, and he’s demanding more. Then he throws his stuffed animal across the room, and Jenny thinks it’s cute and funny, so he throws another one while demanding another story. Well, this is how you raise boys who don’t respect boundaries.
Jenny tells him not to make her angry. He won’t like her when she’s angry. Is it wrong that I just want to see Jenny Hulk out and grab this tiny child by the foot and bodyslam him back and forth into the floor like Hulk did to Loki in The Avengers?
Hulk does not smash, but Jenny tells Donny she turns into a werewolf when she’s angry, so there’s that. He of course demands to see this, jumping up and down on the bed. God, Jenny is such a terrible babysitter. She just keeps winding this kid up, then expecting him to lie down and sleep. Fucking hell, Jenny, why not just make him shotgun Red Bull while you’re at it?
It takes her another half hour to get him to sleep, and she thinks that it’s hard to get angry at someone that cute, and girls better watch out for him in a few years!
YES, BECAUSE HE’LL BE A RAPIST BECAUSE HE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT “””NO””” MEANS!!!
Jenny tries to do homework, but keeps thinking she hears something. She wanders around the house a bit, wonders if she could destroy that annoying clock, then starts thinking about how much fun she had with Chuck. He’d come over to her house to study on Tuesday night, and her mom had thought he was pretty terrific, too:
Jenny’s mom had thought he was really terrific, too. Sure, he did some pretty gross things with a bunch of bananas he found on their kitchen table – but he wouldn’t be Chuck if he didn’t clown around some of the time.
O rlly? What . . . what “gross things” is he doing with the bananas, Bob? Because . . .
Until someone tells me differently, I’m going to imagine it was this. (And I’m also going to use this GIF at every opportunity, barring Chris Evans himself DMing me to tell me to knock it the fuck off. #sorrynotsorry)
Also, Stine himself has been asked on Twitter what gross things Chuck was doing with the bananas, and his response was that he has no idea. So. Draw your own conclusions.
Jenny still hasn’t asked Chuck if he made the threatening call, but she told him he could call her at the Hagens’ if he wanted to, so when the phone rings, she expects it to be him. It’s not. It’s another “Company’s coming, Babes” call. This time, Jenny decides to call the police, but has to call the operator to get the number, then has to figure out if she needs the town police or the village police (. . . what?), then has to dial the number herself instead of the operator putting it through. I guess the police really want to make you jump through hoops to get their help.
Long story short, she calls the village police, who are somewhat sympathetic and tell her that most callers don’t come out to attack anyone, but since there have been these attacks on babysitters they have to take it seriously, so he gives her Lieutenant Ferris’s number from the town police. She should call him if she gets any more calls or sees anything unusual. I wonder if that includes rodents doing dance routines on the front lawn.
Someone knocks on the front door; Jenny goes into the living room to look out the window; someone jumps up and presses their hideous, deformed face against the glass; Jenny screams “YAAAAAIII!” yet again. This is the scene in the photo I shared in the intro, by the way. It’s Chuck! YAAAIII! Sorry. Not!
Jenny thinks that this monster can’t be real; realizes it’s a mask; and thinks that she should call Ferris, because this could be the babysitter attacker. Then the person pulls off the mask and it’s Chuck. Which I’ve already spoiled at least twice already. Sorry. Not!
She SCREAMS at him, because everyone just screams all the time in Stine’s books. Never mind that there’s a sleeping child upstairs. She opens the door to scream at him some more, including calling him a dork, which I think is the least screamable insult – seriously, try screaming, really screaming “Go away, you dork!” and see how threatening you sound. Maybe that’s why Chuck doesn’t realize how pissed she is, and just keeps laughing about how good he got her.
Oh, fuck, is Chuck just the teenage version of Donny? I think he is, guys. No boundaries, thinks everything’s a joke, ignores what Jenny says?
Jenny tries to slam the door, and Chuck sticks his foot in the door, and tells her she’s cute when she’s scared. Fuck. You. Chuck. Slam the door, Jenny. Break his goddamn foot. He finally realizes she’s serious and starts begging to come in because it’s cold outside, and I. Don’t. Care.
She lets him in, because of course she fucking does; Donny comes downstairs and wants to try on Chuck’s mask, which is now back in Chuck’s hand even though a couple pages ago we were told he left it on the porch. Continuity? What’s that?!
Chuck gets Donny all riled up again, running around the room playing Monsters, because nobody fucking knows how to handle children in this godforsaken book. Donny loves Chuck, because he’s now gotten a glimpse of himself in ten years. God help us all.
Donny will only go back to bed if Chuck tucks him in. Jenny thinks about what a sick thing it was for Chuck to tell her she looks cute when she’s scared. Agreed. Beat him to death and blame it on the guy attacking babysitters, Jenny.
He comes into the den and starts trying to make out with Jenny, but she decides to finally ask him if he was the one who called her at the Hagens’. He admits it, but we’re going to have to put a pin in what is no doubt a misunderstanding, because suddenly there’s a convenient crashing noise from outside.
Great. Can’t wait to come back to this riveting plot point. Oh, however shall I manage the tension.
Even though Jenny and Chuck both confirm the noise didn’t come from upstairs, Jenny rushes upstairs anyway. Okay. She checks in on Donny and sees him sleeping with a stuffed tiger and thinks they look like Calvin and Hobbes. I don’t know how much Calvin and Hobbes y’all have read, but that little boy is a terror, and not at all the sweet innocent angel boy Jenny keeps telling us Donny is.
They debate whether or not to call the police, and Jenny finally goes outside on her own. She runs into Willers, who claims to have heard a prowler. Literally nothing comes from any of this, except for Jenny to be creeped out.
Back inside, Chuck launches into his riveting explanation of calling Jenny at the Hagens’. This goes on for several pages, but it basically amounts to: Chuck got the number, called Jenny, chickened out and listened to her on the other end of the line, wasn’t able to say anything, and now feels like a dodo. Jenny’s like uh-huh, okay, now explain the rest of the calls. Chuck has no idea what she’s talking about, then is hurt when she explains. He denies ever having called her “Babes,” and she makes out with him while wondering if she believes him. As you do.
The Hagens return while they’re kissing on the couch, but Jenny manages to shove Chuck out the front door before they come in the . . . back? garage door? I dunno. Whatever. She also screams at him to leave, leading me to wonder how the Hagens didn’t hear her, since everyone wanna be screaming in Stine’s books. Does he understand the difference between yelling/shouting and screaming? Because I don’t think he does.
Mr. Hagen runs in asking if Donny’s okay and runs upstairs to check on him, while Mrs. Hagen apologizes, and I imagine just looks done with the whole man. Mr. Hagen comes back downstairs, mentions seeing a car parked outside, then wonders where it went and demands to know if Jenny noticed it or heard a car door or anything. Then he finds Chuck’s monster mask, and Jenny lies that she brought it for Donny to play with. Mr. Hagen claims he didn’t see it when she arrived, and like, dude. She says it was in her backpack, because yeah. Do you have X-ray vision, my guy? Did you think she was gonna walk in swinging it in circles over her head?
Mr. Hagen drives Jenny home, and he non-stop chatters at her most of the way, then stops and seriously tells her that he has one very important rule for babysitters:
“There’s probably no need to tell you this,” he said softly, “but I like to make things clear. I have one important rule for our baby-sitters. And that’s no visitors. I know a lot of times baby-sitters like to invite their friends over to keep them company. I guess some parents allow it, or at least, put up with it. But I don’t. I just don’t think it’s a good idea. I want all of your attention on Donny. I hope you understand.”
And look, I agree! But, if it’s your number one rule, don’t you think you should have MENTIONED IT AT ANY POINT?! Also, that “there’s probably no need to tell you this”? YES, THERE FUCKING IS! MAKE YOUR RULES KNOWN, YOU ABSOLUTE FUCKWIT! How is Jenny supposed to know what the rules are if you DON’T TELL HER?!
Jenny agrees, then Mr. Hagen continues driving in silence, only breaking it once to say that they’d had another child, then going back to awkward silence. Mmkay.
Cut to Jenny and Laura in gym class, playing volleyball. Laura is in a foul mood because she broke up with Bob Tanner. I’m not sure that’s actually the correct term since as far as I know they had maybe been on one date, but sure. I don’t care. Moving on.
Jenny gets the wind knocked out of her and goes to the locker room, where she finds a note in her bag. It reads:
ALL ALONE IN THAT BIG OLD HOUSE?
DON’T WORRY. COMPANY’S COMING.
For some reason she thinks the note was put in her bag last night, and that Chuck was the only person who had gotten close enough to her to slip a note in her bag. Uh, untrue, but whatever. I still don’t care.
Saturday evening, and we get a sequence I would swear was a dream sequence, but apparently not. Jenny gets off the bus and hears footsteps chasing her – it’s Willers! She runs away from him, finally making it to the Hagens’ front door, where she finds out from Mr. Hagen that there is no neighbor named Willers, and the house next door has been empty for six months.
Dun-dun-DUN or whatever.
Mr. Hagen suggests to his wife that they stay home, saying what about the attacks on babysitters and claiming Donny could be in danger. Um, pretty sure it’s the babysitters being attacked, not the kids, but okay. However, they absolutely must attend this party they’re off to. The Hagens make Jenny promise to keep the doors locked, all the lights on, and call the police at any noise.
Donny’s been bugging Jenny to play hide and seek during this whole conversation, because Donny can’t read a fucking room, nor have his parents taught him not to interrupt people. Mr. Hagen says no hide and seek, why don’t you watch that tape he rented? The movie? Poltergeist. Why are we showing horror movies to 6-year-olds? (Yes, I know Poltergeist is only rated PG, and is basically “baby’s first horror,” but that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for your 6-year-old.) Also, Donny describes it as “she gets sucked into the TV set and can’t get out,” which makes me want to slap him for not understanding what happens in that movie. Stupid fuckin baby.
Donny falls asleep halfway through the movie, leaving Jenny to wonder more about who’s been threatening her. Yawn. Then she hears heavy footsteps running across the living room ( . . . is that not the room she’s in? I have no idea how this house is set up – give me a goddamn floorplan, Bob!), and it turns out to be Mr. Hagen. He had a bad feeling, so he came home to check on Donny.
Funny how he’s willing to ruin date night to check on his kid, but unwilling to leave any information required to care for his kid. I still don’t know if Donny’s going to die if I feed him a PB&J.
Whatever. He heads upstairs, then starts screaming in all caps that DONNY’S GONE! GONE, I SAY!
Look, this much screaming is just unhinged and ridiculous. Most people would just yell.
Mr. Hagen is just pacing around in Donny’s room, screaming about where he could be, and then Donny, cool as a cucumber, slides out from underneath the bed, laughing his ass off. This kid is a sociopath. Mr. Hagen, obviously distraught, gathers Donny up in his arms, repeating “you’re okay, you’re okay” over and over, and somehow this kid is still proud of his joke. Mrs. Hagen comes into the room, baffled at what the fuck just happened, because she hadn’t even known he’d left the party at first.
Okay, wait. Does that mean one of them walked home? How far away was this party? Did Bob forget that people require means of transportation, that they can’t just teleport? Because they arrived home mere minutes apart, so unless you want me to believe this party was just across the street . . . how?
The night ruined, Mr. Hagen drives Jenny home. Chuck calls, and this idiot Jenny agrees to let him come over to the Hagens’ to “study” on Thursday night. She additionally plans to invite Laura along, too. I . . . Jenny, what are you doing? THE HAGENS ONLY HAVE ONE RULE, WHICH YOU AGREED TO, AND NOW YOU’RE PREMEDITATEDLY THUMBING YOUR NOSE AT IT?!?!?!
Jenny, you deserve whatever happens.
Thursday night, after Jenny gets Donny to bed, Chuck shows up with Laura . . . and Eugene, her original boyfriend from the beginning of the book. Well, that’s just awesome. Now it’s a make-out party instead of a threesome! Wait . . .
Nobody brought any books for the “studying,” and Laura wastes no time dragging Eugene off to the den to “talk.” Chuck and Jenny do talk for a few minutes, mostly about how Chuck wants her to trust him, then they get to the making out. And then Chuck leaves to go outside because Eugene informs him he left his headlights on.
Hey, wouldn’t it be a twist if Eugene were the bad guy? Like, he’s already dispatched Laura, and now he’s sending Chuck away so he can murder Jenny uninterrupted?
That does not happen. Instead, Chuck is gone long enough for Jenny to hear footsteps (there are literally four other humans in the house with you, Jenny! Any one of them could be making noise!), creep into the kitchen to investigate, then remember a time when she was seven or eight and had seen a drop of blood on the floor while hearing chopping noises coming from the kitchen. Of course her mother had just cut herself while chopping carrots, and already had a band-aid on the cut, but Kid Jenny had just had to scream, “Ma – the blood!”
If I took a shot every time someone in a Stine book screamed, would I die? All the screaming isn’t necessary or realistic, Bob. Learn a new word. Yelled, shouted, cried, exclaimed – any of these are fine. Save your screams for situations and descriptions in which they actually make sense. Goddamn.
Any fucking way.
The noise she heard was the cat who only seems to exist when we need a jump scare. It knocked over the sugar cannister, and from the description, Jenny doesn’t bother to clean it up, just picks the cat up and sets it on the floor. Yeah, as soon as you turn your back, that cat is going to be right back up there licking up all the sugar, but go on with your bad self, Jenny. I’m sure the Hagens will appreciate a sticky sugar mess all over the fucking counters.
Chuck comes back in, so I’m not sure what the point of the headlight thing was, and he and Jenny continue making out on the sofa.
Until they look up to see Mr. Hagen standing over them. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA busted.
He’s glaring down at them, then opens his mouth, probably to scream again, and lunges forward like he’s going to grab them and strangle the life out of them, except Mrs. Hagen fortunately walks into the room and he stops short of physically assaulting the minors. Then Laura and Eugene emerge from the den, and oh boy, this isn’t going well.
Mrs. Hagen tells the kids to run along, she and Mr. Hagen will have a talk with Jenny, and insists that Mr. Hagen will drive Jenny home after Chuck offers to. No way. Nuh-uh. I would in no way feel safe or comfortable riding home with that man after this. I’d think, fuck it, I’m probably fired anyway, so lemme just leave with my friends, and maybe we sit down for a conversation tomorrow, where we hash out my final payment or whatever.
Chuck whispers to Jenny that he’ll wait at her house for her. No, Chuck, wait outside the Hagens’ for her! Don’t leave her at the mercy of the man who only halted a physical attack on you because his wife walked in!
Chuck leaves, and Mrs. Hagen calms her husband down by suggesting they go up and check on Donny. Jenny thinks that she’s very good at calming Mr. Hagen down. Yeah, I imagine she’s had a lot of practice. He doesn’t seem able to regulate his emotions on his own.
Jenny goes up to the Hagens’ bedroom to get her coat from their closet, and naturally knocks a shoebox off the shelf. It conveniently spills its contents onto the floor. Hey, guess what, guys? It’s full of newspaper clippings about the attacks on babysitters! That’s weird! Also among them are other clippings about babysitters being responsible for their charges’ deaths, so I guess it’s a combination of trophies and rage bait. Anyway, all the babysitters’ names have been circled in red marker, so maybe it’s also a hit list? Unclear. Muddled. Do better, Bob.
Jenny thinks that Mr. Hagen must be all-caps CRAZY, never considering the fact that it’s a shared closet and those could very well be Mrs. Hagen’s news clippings. Women can be murderers, too! #feminism
She leaves the box and the clippings all over the goddamn floor, then Mr. Hagen comes up behind her and she wonders if he saw her looking at the clippings. What. Aren’t you sitting in a circle of these newspaper clippings? They are literally surrounding you on the floor, aren’t they? I mean, I’m just picturing this:
But I guess not.
Instead of sitting down to have a conversation with Jenny, which was, ya know, the whole fucking reason she couldn’t leave with her friends, Mr. Hagen just asks if she’s ready for him to drive her home. She puts up a slight protest (“oh, it’s so far; you really don’t have to”), but ends up going with him. Mrs. Hagen calls from the other room, telling him not to lecture Jenny all the way home, and Jenny thinks that she wants to beg Mrs. Hagen not to make her ride with him, but . . . she doesn’t. She, in fact, berates herself for letting her imagination run away again, and thinks that he’s always seemed very sweet underneath his nervousness, and he really does love his child.
Uh, Jenny? His child isn’t the one in danger here, you dolt.
She seemingly manages to convince herself that absolutely nothing is wrong here, even when Mr. Hagen locks the car doors as they’re driving, which is something he’s never done before. She tells herself it’s considerate of him, actually. Sure, Jenny. Sure. Then he begins driving the wrong way, out of town, and calmly tells her that he’s driving very fast, so she shouldn’t try anything. Then he says that he’s sorry she saw his clippings, but it really doesn’t matter.
Okay, so obviously he’s the attacker of the babysitters, but I feel like this plotline is really anemic. Were these just random babysitters he didn’t know, or had they babysat Donny? Surely if they had been babysitters who had been responsible for children’s deaths, that would have been mentioned in the news. So, what was the point of the “babysitters bad” clippings? This is all muddled, and never explained. Also, was he always planning on attacking Jenny? Because my god, don’t shit where you eat, dude. You’re going to be the first suspect, moron.
Jenny, naturally, thinks about how cRaZy Mr. Hagen is, because nobody can be bothered to educate themselves on what mental illness actually is, or examine why they feel the need to conflate “crazy” with literally every bad thing they can think of. Then Mr. Hagen starts whispering his whole “company’s coming” shtick, causing Jenny to scream “It was YOU!”
Fucking duh, Jenny. Did the kidnapping not tip you off?
Also, just try to scream the sentence “It was YOU!” It’s very awkward. I feel like you could shout/yell it pretty easily, but screaming it? Ow, my throat.
You know, after spending a little bit of time with Jenny, Chuck won’t have to pretend to be deaf; his eardrums will literally explode after all the screaming Jenny does at the drop of a fucking hat.
God, this book. God, RL fucking Stine.
Where was I? Oh, yeah, Mr. Hagen now does to Jenny what I’ve wanted to this whole book – he yells (not screams, although I feel like now would actually be a good use of screaming) SHUT UP! and slaps her across the face. I mean, not cool or whatever, but I totally sympathize.
Mr. Hagen explains – sort of. He had a baby, a little two-year-old girl who died because the babysitter wasn’t quick enough, wasn’t smart enough, wasn’t GOOD ENOUGH!
Oh, okay. Very enlightening, thank you.
He slams on the brakes, causing Jenny to slam her head into the dashboard, so I guess we didn’t bother wearing a seatbelt while a passenger in the homicidal rage-monster’s car. He drags her out of the car, and oh, what’s this? We’re at the old abandoned quarry? Awesome, let’s throw some bitches in!
Wait, I’m not supposed to be rooting for Jenny’s death, am I. My bad.
There are ten pages left, and I can’t make myself care about any of this. He asks if she wants to jump or be pushed; Mr. Willers shows up pointing a gun at Hagen; Stine lies to us in a cliffhanger chapter end, telling us that Hagen gave Jenny a hard push into the quarry, then it turns out she actually dodged out of the way; Hagen isn’t so lucky and falls in; turns out “Mr. Willers” is actually the police lieutenant, Ferris, whose number Jenny has had in her pocket since way back when. So, he’s terrible at his job and did more to scare Jenny throughout the book than to help her. A+, my guy.
And now we actually do get the backstory – the Hagens’ daughter died from unknown causes, and Mr. Hagen blamed the babysitter, because . . . reasons. He beat her up, but got off with a light sentence because of his distressed emotional state. Then they moved all the way to the other side of town, guys! And Hagen was the number one suspect when babysitters started getting beat up! Then Ferris decided to use Jenny as bait after she ran away from him at the bus stop!
WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK IS ANY OF THIS? THIS ENTIRE POLICE FORCE SHOULD BE DISBANDED IMMEDIATELY!
Ferris has been driving Jenny home while explaining this, because it’s not like police and ambulances should have been called out to the scene of the crime and the victim/witness interviewed on the record or anything, right? Did Ferris even call any backup out to the quarry? I’m not sure Jenny should believe this man is with the police. He’s probably just another serial killer taking her to a second (third?) location.
Chuck and Jenny’s mom are waiting for them, worried because Chuck’s been there for an hour. Yeah, I’d be afraid to have Chuck around a bunch of bananas for that long, too. Ferris explains what happened, and comments that the story is about to get even sadder, because he has to go tell Mrs. Hagen what happened. Um, are we believing she had no idea her husband was doing this? She never saw the very obvious shoebox full of newspaper clippings, never wondered if her husband who had been convicted of beating up a babysitter was beating up babysitters? I mean, fine if that’s the narrative you’re going with, Stine, but I think she was in on it.
Then mom tells Jenny that Mrs. Milton down the street called wanting to know if Jenny could babysit, because fuck your trauma, I guess. Jenny declines, and Chuck pipes up that Jenny already has a steady babysitting job on Friday nights – from now on, she’s babysitting him! Chuck is the only one who laughs, which is quite the switch from the way these books usually end.
Jenny thanks him for telling the perfect dreadful joke to end the perfect dreadful evening. Meanwhile, I want to set everyone on fire, so I guess it’s good we’re done here.
Nostalgia Glasses Off
So, uh, yeah. Even with the benefit of nostalgia, this is pretty dire. Jenny is a wet rag; Chuck is an obnoxious RL Stine Jokester Boi™; Laura is The Friend Who Can Only Talk About Boys, Because Teen Girls, Amirite?!; Donny is absolutely going to grow up into some version of Rapist Brock Turner; all the police are woefully incompetent; there’s no way Mrs. Hagen didn’t know her husband was running around beating up (random?) babysitters all over town; and Mr. Hagen’s motive was . . . non-existent, other than, “Well, losing a child turns you crazy, and crazy people kill people! Did we mention, cRaZy? Because, CRAZY!”
I can’t believe they’re making a TV series of this garbage. Hopefully it’s just loosely inspired by, like the Fear Street movies on Netflix (which I actually did enjoy quite a bit. They benefitted from a talented writer coming up with the stories instead of Bob).
So, if recaps where I don’t enjoy the book aren’t your jam, cheer up! Next time out for our Babysitters in Peril Month, I’ll be recapping a book from the Baby-Sitter’s Nightmares series, which I do enjoy! There were, sadly, only four books in the series, and I’ve already recapped my favorite one, The Evil Child, but the others are solid little thrillers, too. If you prefer recaps where I like the thing I’m recapping, the next one will definitely make you happy!