Spoonful of Sugar is a 2022 horror thriller film that premiered around several film festivals before being acquired by and premiering on Shudder’s streaming service in March of this year. The film’s story centers on Millicent (Morgan Saylor), a college student who takes on a job caring for a sickly, agoraphobic child. Millicent also appears to suffer from some ailments herself and is undergoing a treatment program utilizing microdoses of LSD, which results in occasional hallucinations adding to the uncertainty and tension Millicent is experiencing. As Johnny, the child Millicent is charged with caring for, continues to be nonverbal and experience symptoms, Millicent tries to use her own medication on him in order for him to feel the same sensations and freedom Millicent undergoes when under the influence of the drug. This has mixed results.
As the film progresses, we come to learn more about Millicent’s hallucinations and illusions about her life. She appears to be the victim of various unwanted sexual advances from nearly every man in her life including foster parents and therapists. These unwanted attacks are met with equal violence and deaths fueled by her rage and drug treatment. This continuous use of LSD lead to further hallucinations and blurring of reality as they also make audience’s question Millicent’s reliability as a narrator. However, she is not the only one who has mysterious murderous tendencies. Johnny, her ward, also exhibits some concerning behaviors revolving around the killing of animals and violent outbursts.
Millicent and Johnny bond over these mutual desires and actions as well as developing a codependent connection as Millicent yearns for any semblance of family while Johnny just wishes to be released from the limitations imposed by his biological mother. Rebecca (Kat Foster), Johnny’s mother, has obvious issues with the relationship forming between her son and Millicent as well as the relationship burgeoning between her husband, Jacob (Myko Olivier), and Millicent. This tension and competing agendas comes to a murderous climax as Millicent instructs Johnny to kill his mother with the promise of replacing her and allowing him his killing freedom. She then tries to get Jacob in on her plan with the allure of sex. Rebecca reacts to these machinations by stabbing Millicent in the back, literally, with a pair of scissors. In her escape attempt an injured Millicent is found by Johnny who proceeds to kill Millicent in front of his parents with a knife. Their reaction is solemn acceptance as they proceed to dismember and hide Millicent’s body. As the movie runs credits, we see more bodies of random women dismembered and buried in the family’s backyard insinuating a long history of Johnny’s violent outbursts giving new perspective and understanding of the arguments had between Jacob and Rebecca throughout the film.
While the film does have moments of cleverness and makes interesting use of the LSD/hallucination gimmick, the eventual reveal of Johnny’s true nature is a bit random and has intriguing, but ultimately unexplored and underdeveloped, implications. It also makes the entire act of Millicent drugging Johnny pointless and questionable at best to just a way of including weird effects and padding the runtime. Had there been more information on that front or actual on screen scenes and development, it would have been a more engaging plot point. Overall, Spoonful of Sugar is a slightly above average horror film that is bogged down by interesting but lagging elements.