Spoonful of Sugar – Horror Review
Millicent is taking a semester off from her studies to take care of Johnny, a sickly, mute child with severe allergies. His mother, Rebecca, is an author and his father, Jacob, is a carpenter.
Welcome to Knockout Horror and to another Horror Movie Review. Today we are taking a look at Mercedes Morgan’s Shudder original Spoonful of Sugar. Boy have I ever watched a lot of crap lately. Movies like Shook, Initiation and Outback. Stand as reminders of the low standard of horror. I love the horror genre. I, quite literally, only watch horror movies. The reality is, however, that the majority of them are well below average.
As someone running a Horror Movie Review website. This sort of leads you into a spiral of reviewing bad films. It’s difficult to not become just a tiny bit jaded. It’s not like I want to watch bad movies. I don’t want to be dishing out scores below 5. I certainly don’t want to come off as negative. On the other hand. I also don’t want to end up like these overly positive reviewers plaguing Rotten Tomatoes. A lot of horror is really bad. It’s just a painful fact of life when it comes to the low standard of horror, in general. This brings me nicely onto today’s movie – Spoonful of Sugar.
This movie combines inappropriate relationships between adults and children. With damaging portrayals of neuro-divergent people. All while sprinkling in some bad acting. Loathsome sound production and a boring, nonsensical, plot. If that doesn’t sound like enough, then never fear. When things really start to feel weak. Morgan throws in numerous awkward and unnecessary masturbation and sex scenes. I can safely say that, if it weren’t for an unexpected ending. This would have scored even lower.
I also think its worth me pointing out. Fake user reviews for this are appearing already. If you see something with a 9 or a 10 from a reviewer who recently signed up. Speaks poor English and writes virtually nothing about the movie. Always look on it with suspicion. The movie has only just released. These will appear thick and fast over the coming weeks. It is super common with horror movies on Netflix and Shudder. Anyways, onto a genuine review. Let’s take a look.
Spoonful of Sugar – Ending Explained
We put out a couple of Horror Movie Ending Explained articles each week. In these articles, we take a look at certain movies and explain the ending. It’s pretty straightforward really. Many of these films may have obvious endings with a few questions left unanswered. Others will be ridiculously confusing. We approach them all the same and try to clear things up.
Spoonful of Sugar has a rather entertaining ending. Still, there are plenty of things that could do with explaining. If you have watched the movie and have questions. Why not check out our Spoonful of Sugar Ending Explained article? It’s not spoiler free so, if you haven’t watched the movie, stay here. Check it out and then come back. Our reviews are always spoiler free. It’s a mammoth article so grab a coffee.
Spoonful of Sugar – A Poorly Thought Out Plot
Spoonful of Sugar’s plot is both simple and ridiculous. A woman, Millicent, who has been through the foster care system. Begins caring for a child with specialist needs. Suffering from a number of allergies and having developed a propensity towards violence. This is a child with some very specific issues. Millicent believes the child’s problems may not be allergies at all. Having been prescribed LSD to treat her own psychological issues. She thinks the potent psychedelic drug can help him, too. Thus she begins treating the child. All while experiencing a bizarre, and pointless, sexual awakening.
Spoonful of Sugar reveals itself to be rather poorly thought out almost immediately. We are presented with our main character Millicent. A twitchy, somewhat bizarre, person that stands out for how strange she is. Immediately challenging the views of the mother who is employing her to care for her child. It is very difficult to imagine that anyone would trust this woman with their kids. She appears to be on some kind of drugs. She disagrees with Rebecca’s appraisal of her own child’s problems. And seems both dismissive of her demands and fairly vacant.
Spoonful of Sugar – Plot Holes Ahoy
This speaks to only one of the many plot holes that Spoonful of Sugar is so guilty of. The viewer is expected to buy into the possibility of Millicent being employed in this role. Despite how unlikely this is. This is even more unlikely given her history. She is clearly not a stable person. Not to mention her showing resistance to the parent’s demands in the job interview. Not respecting the child’s need for space. And pushing her own opinions on alternative diagnoses.
As the movie goes on, things only become worse. The viewer is, again, expected to buy into increasingly more unrealistic scenarios. Each more unlikely than the last. From psychologists prescribing strong psychedelic drugs. To the reveal of Millicent’s ridiculous history with her foster parents. All for the sake of pushing along a story that is mildly dull, at best. And completely farcical at its worst.
Spoonful of Sugar – An Unlikeable Cast
Spoonful of Sugar presents us with a cast that is impossible to care about. Each member is as bad as the last. Millicent is a character with a played out, tropey, past. Feeling overly familiar; revelations about the character come in gradually. One after another. Provoking yawns and eye rolls for their predictability. Yet each given the grandeur and sense of occasion afforded to shock reveals. Quietly suggesting that the viewer would never have guessed what was coming. Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Millicent’s character progression is almost non-existent. When the big secret about her comes to light near the end of the film. It feels less like the powerful revelation that the writer intended. And more like an obvious moment of needless exposition.
Rebecca and Jacob are the exact type of couple you expect to see in this type of horror. At each other’s throats. Sex and affection are passed around like a bargaining chip. Designed to elicit sympathy for the vapid and dishwater dull Jacob. We are, apparently, supposed to dislike this driven woman for having ambition. The movie almost pokes fun at her struggles raising a troubled child. As if caring for someone with very complex needs is easy and she is just a bad parent.
Johnny is the type of child that the media likes to picture when they think of neuro-divergent. Non-verbal and incredibly violent. This is a film that deserves scorn for its presentation of certain character types. Depressive victims of the foster care system, addicted to drugs and sex obsessed. Combined with violent and unloving, differently abled, children. It’s all rather frustrating to see and speaks to a writer with limited scope. When a movie leans this heavily into worn out and irresponsible tropes. You can only hope that their impact on the horror scene will be short lived and minimal.
Spoonful of Sugar – Dollar Store Lucky McKee
Spoonful of Sugar is a movie that so desperately wants to play out like a modern version of May. From Morgan Saylor’s propensity to gurn her way through an Angela Bettis-lite role. To the Lucky McKee rip off style of story and direction. This is a film devoid of personality and originality. Copious amounts of B-roll focusing on irrelevant details highlights the movie’s opening. Only to be replaced with a repetitive obsession with the mundane. As Millicent sits spitting watermelon seeds into the void. I felt a distinct sense of Deja-vu wash over me.
There is a discomforting feeling of familiarity throughout Spoonful of Sugar, in fact. Not a feeling of the movie paying tribute. More that a director devoid of ideas took to plagiarism to weave a style. The problem is, everything here feels so poorly done. There is a cheap plastic sheen to the presentation. As if the director had ideas but didn’t understand execution. The result is a picture that provokes annoyance at numerous points.
An almost compulsive desire to record every single disgusting sound. Before blasting it directly into the ears of the viewer. Prove to be hell for Misophonia sufferers. Again, reminiscent of Lucky McKee but without the relevance and clever focus. McKee used these techniques to highlight May’s obsession with certain characters. As well as her obsession with certain body parts. Here, it is used simply to annoy the viewer and get under their skin. Like screamer scares of old. This is becoming all too common in horror and hints at a director lacking in ideas.
Spoonful of Sugar – Tired Eroticism and Lacking Horror
Spoonful of Sugar is woefully slow paced. Again, choosing to engage in the repetitive and mundane. The movie forgoes plot and character development. Instead choosing to emphasise the quirkiness of our boring and unlikeable lead. When that isn’t enough, Morgan resorts to tried and tested sex scenes. As boring, awkward, and unnecessary as they are. It’s hard to shake the feeling that this movie was made with a specific audience in mind. I complained about Don’t Kill Me feeling like a softcore skin flick. Well, Spoonful of Sugar is even worse. These characters are horny beyond belief.
Numerous scenes of masturbation and sex permeate the movie. Presented in an almost infantile manner. As if attempting to hold onto a PG-13 rating. They feel both redundant and out of place. My fiancée and I ended up laughing. Repeatedly exclaiming “What the hell? Another sex scene!?”. It’s all a bit sad to be honest. I really think sex scenes don’t have a huge place in horror. Whereas nudity can be important and impactful to the story. Sex rarely feels like it fits. It can be implied, we don’t need to see two actors awkwardly dry humping each other. The synopsis of the movie refers to Millicent’s sexual awakening. Like many of the elements in this movie. It feels both pointless and like story padding.
Presenting itself as a straight up horror movie. I am left to wonder which parts of the movie are actually horror? There is very little here for horror fans to hold onto. It feels a lot closer to a simple and straightforward erotic thriller. The movie’s obsession with the drug LSD could have lead to some interesting psychedelic horror. Ala Without Name or Gaia. Instead it simply results in awkward scenes featuring terrible CGI. It’s really just an afterthought.
Spoonful of Sugar – Substandard Acting
Acting is, generally, bad. I am sure some people will buy into her performance. But, for me. Morgan Saylor puts on one of my least favourite lead girl performances of all time. I am a huge fan of quirky women in horror movies. Its probably my favourite type of character. I was woefully disappointed by Saylor, here. Aside from looking far too old for the role. She gurns her way through an hour and a half of Angela Bettis plagiarism. I was hoping for something akin to AnnaLynne McCord in Excision. Saylor couldn’t be further from that, though. Bringing nothing to the roll and chewing the scenery whenever she can.
This performance really needed to be rained in. She has a real tendency to over-exaggerate her facial expressions. She is like a living emoji. Fourth wall breaking scenes where she stares into the camera feel desperately awkward. A deliberate attempt to seem physically quirky comes across as completely overdone. I just really didn’t enjoy it at all. If she toned it down, it might have been fine. This really would have been a case of less is more.
Myko Oliver seems to give less than two fucks about what is going on. His performance is completely phoned in. He seems oblivious to the gravity of the situation. Feeling, somehow, like the token “sexy gardener” character from a sitcom. More than an actual well developed character. Kat Foster is probably the best member of the cast. She manages some decent emotion in a few scenes and really tries. She also captures that pre-occupied, career driven, mother type of character pretty well.
Spoonful of Sugar – A Terrible Script but Surprisingly Decent Ending
It would be remiss of me to criticise the acting here without mentioning Leah Saint Marie’s terrible script. After all, she didn’t give these actors a tremendous amount to work with. Spoonful of Sugar’s script borders on remedial. Completely lacking in nuance and going no way to helping develop characters. I found myself thinking “humans don’t speak like that” on a number of occasions. This is a writer with a lack of experience, I imagine. There is probably room to grow. Still, despite the small cast of characters and simple plot. The writing is a major issue.
Cinematography is fine. I’m always a fan of the 1.66:1 aspect ratio. It looks, generally, quite nice here and offers a somewhat unique feeling to the picture. Lighting is a bit of a problem. This is a very dark movie, at times. This wouldn’t be so much of a problem but many of the dark scenes feature backlighting. This can make characters difficult to see. Some of the more abstract shots are quite interesting. This movie doesn’t do nearly enough with psychedelic imagery, though. It falls horribly flat given the potential of the theme.
The ending is somewhat surprising and rather enjoyable. It was, by far, my favourite part of the movie. I actually bumped the score by a point as its nice to see something unexpected. The build up leads to a very nice twist that feels quite refreshing. I wouldn’t suggest sitting through the movie just for the ending. But it is the best part of the movie and shows that the writer wasn’t completely devoid of ideas. One thing it does do, however, is undermine much of the movie’s plot. It adds to the sense of redundancy in much of what happens. Still, it deserves praise for subverting expectations.
Is it a Knockout?
Spoonful of Sugar is a dull, boring, and utterly uninteresting horror movie. I really wanted to like this movie. We need more horror fronted by female writers and directors. Unfortunately, unlike the marvelous Sissy, Spoonful of Sugar misses the mark spectacularly. Feeling like something of a discount store version of Lucky McKee's May. This movie engages heavily in tropes that are both damaging and irresponsible. Presenting neuro-divergent characters as being either violent and incapable of love. Or as drug addicted and sex obsessed. The lack of horror elements. Is only slightly rescued by a, somewhat, interesting ending.
Resorting to light, 50 shades style, eroticism when the plot flounders. This is a movie that feels a bit pathetic and sad in parts. Likely to divide audiences simply for its presentation. The terrible script and sub-par acting are just a few more of this movie's issues. Morgan Saylor's tendency to chew the scenery can be frustrating at times. Making an already unlikeable character even worse.
An unrealistic plot full of holes and inconsistencies will leave you disinterested. This is, simply, a really bad horror movie. Some may enjoy the quirkiness. Others with little experience in horror may no recognise the obvious style plagiarism. Experienced horror fans should probably look elsewhere. As I always say, though. This is, really, just my opinion. I have watched thousands of horror movies from all over the world. This is my opinion relative to the horror I have seen. You may love the movie and horror needs support. Go check it out anyway, you might really enjoy it.