The House of The Devil, When a Stranger Calls and Child Eater, each a horror movie that follows a babysitter through a harrowing night in someone else’s home. It makes sense. There’s something inherently unnerving about being ushered into a strange house and instantly entrusted with its treasures and secrets. Which is why we suspect the following story out of Scotland could be the next “based on real life” horror movie to take off.
Our story begins with a loving family, a mother, father and two adorable moppets ages 5 and 7, who live in the quaint village of Jedburgh, Roxburghshire, near the Scottish border. “We have a lovely, spacious, historic property in a remote spot with spectacular views,” declares the want ad seeking a new live-in nanny. Responsibilities include feeding the children breakfast, dropping them off and picking them up from school, helping with homework, and occasionally feeding them dinner and putting them to bed, as the parents are often caught working nights up to four times a week. It’s fairly straightforward posting, but there is one catch: the house is haunted.
From the original ad:
“We have lived in our home for nearly 10 years. We were told it was ‘haunted’ when we bought it, but kept our minds open and decided to buy the house regardless. 5 nannies have left the role in the last year, each citing supernatural incidents as the reason, including strange noises, broken glass and furniture moving. This has obviously been a period of great upheaval for our children. We haven’t personally experienced any supernatural happenings, as they have been reported only while we’ve been out of the house, but we’re happy to pay above the asking rate, and feel it’s important to be as up-front as possible to find the right person.”
And then there’s this helpful image, presumably of the house’s boasted views. Note the caption.
This movie writes itself.
A young woman in need of cash and a roof over her head spots the ad, posted perhaps on a telephone pole, a community board, or found crumpled up on the sidewalk, suspiciously rolling up to her sneakered foot as if it were an ominous tumbleweed. With the family offering about twice the average salary for such a position (according to The Sun), it seems too good to be true! Perhaps the ad doesn’t mention the ghosts, and the parents wait to disclose until she’s seen their lovely home, with the private nanny’s quarters complete with “en-suite bathroom and private kitchen.” Perhaps she’s already met the children, who are pleasant, but with a glint of something strange in their steady stare. Or maybe the family is as forthright as in real life, but this nanny is a skeptic who scoffs at the idea of ghosts.
The great thing about this premise, it is timeless. Set in the 1800s, with high collars, long skirts, and lanterns flickering unnerving shadows on the wall. Set in the 1980s, give her a Walkman to rock to as she bops about the place, blithely unaware of the spirits there—at first. Set it today, and have her lament that this “remote” location boasts beautiful views of sweeping hills and no neighbors for miles, but also spotty cellphone reception.
The ghost—or ghosts—come at night, always at night, after she has put the children to bed. At first, she thinks it’s just the old house settling. Then, she gets mad as she decides it’s the children, sneaking out of their room and causing havoc to scare her. But of course, they’re sleeping soundly, like the dead. Glass breaks. Her pulse races as her feet speed down the stairs to find its source. Furniture moves to mock her. Shadows streak walls without source. And all of this builds to a terrifying climax, likely tied to some terrible skeleton in this seemingly sweet family’s closet.
Perhaps this nanny will escape. But others will come. They always come. The pay is too good, the lure too much to resist. In real life, this ad’s oddity has gotten it plastered across a bevy of news sites, including the NY Daily News. And with all this attention, has come an update:
We have been overwhelmed by the response and have received over 2000 messages in relation to the position. Due to the vast number of enquiries, we unfortunately aren’t able to respond to everyone individually. It has been a difficult time for us recently and the number of applicants and messages offering support and help are hugely appreciated.
There will be sequels. Nannies are already lining up to assure that.