The Sweet Spot

By Evan Enderle | Horror
A little girl discovers a hidden resident at a daycare...

Elizabeth and her mother are headed to an overnight childcare facility, a home run by Miss Linda. Elizabeth doesn't want to go, but her stressed-out, impatient mother has few options when she has to leave to attend a birth for her work.

The home is teeming with other kids, but Elizabeth is intrigued by the sound of a baby in the other room. But the baby is sick, according to Miss Linda, and needs to be separated from the other children. But Elizabeth's curiosity gets the better of her, as she finds herself drawn to the daycare's hidden resident and the secrets surrounding it.

Written and directed by Evan Enderle, this short captures the world of a quiet young girl. We don't get much about Elizabeth's background or circumstances, but we get the sense that she and her mother don't have a particularly warm relationship, captured with spare but precise dialogue.

For the film's first half, the film falls neatly into the register of emotionally observant naturalism, with its muted colors and handheld camerawork, which develops the portrait of a young girl emotionally adrift and separated from the world around her. Young performer Miriam Krien has a gentle understatement that serves her well in building a character who is essentially lonely and withdrawn, and an innate sweetness that makes her compelling and sympathetic.

As the film progresses, the storytelling's scope opens up to include the caretaker, Miss Linda, and the small yet uncanny details of The Sweet Spot itself. The visual language of the film shifts as well, taking on the cool, ominous tones of the night as Miss Linda attends to the mysterious hidden baby. Actor Meredith Holzman plays Miss Linda with the solidity of a maternal figure, full of warmth and solicitousness, but also has her moments of cagey wariness. When Elizabeth's curiosity gets the better of her, she ably takes care of the neglected little girl, revealing both a deep desire to care for others -- as well as the strange, twisted shape it now takes for her.

The end scene of "The Sweet Spot" is a canny and even masterful one, one that takes the sheen of a heartwarming moment of a lonely little girl finding a connection and re-molds it to chilling effect. It recasts the film in a way that invites rewatching, and seemingly offhand details now take on deeper import. It also nails down the tricky balancing act of sympathy and understanding, as two people in search of love and meaning find one another. But in light of the film's larger context, there's also horror at the idea of a little girl finding her true family -- and the cost that will come to make it.

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