Saturday, October 21, 2017

31 Days of Horror: The Babysitter

Directed by McG.
2017. Rated R, 85 minutes.
Cast:
Judah Lewis
Samara Weaving
Bella Thorne
Hana Mae Lee
Robbie Amell
Andrew Bachelor
Emily Alyn Lind
Leslie Bibb
Ken Marino

When twelve year old Cole (Lewis) gets hassled by the local bullies, his attractive babysitter Bee (Weaving) comes to the rescue. She's going to be watching him while his parents are having a weekend getaway. At first, this is fine with Cole because he really likes Bee and bonds with her over all manner of geekiness such as thinking up their "Intergalactic Dream Team" made up of science-fiction characters. However, things go south shortly after Cole's bedtime. A group of Bee's friends come over. Understandably, Cole can't sleep and decides to spy on Bee and his visitors. It turns out they are all part of a Satanic cult and pretty desperately need the blood of the innocent to carry out their various deals with the innocent. And Cole is innocent. A bunch of crazed twenty-somethings trying to kill him ensues.

The name of the game, here, is fun. It's nasty, gory fun. The movie most certainly doesn't skimp on the bloodshed. The brilliance of it is the way the film springs it on us. After a rather idyllic beginning, we're rather suddenly thrust into the horror portion of the production. It's one of the sharpest lefts I can remember a movie taking so early on. From that moment, we're inundated with the type of violence that's so over the top, you can't help but laugh at it. This is achieved by mostly practical effects that add a bit of old school flare to the proceedings. Add in all the things Cole has to do to survive and it plays like a really bloody version of Home Alone. The movie itself is not oblivious to this and lets us know by directly referencing the beloved Christmas flick. Instead of just mentioning it, The Babysitter actively seeks and finds ways to push its premise to the extreme. The result is a film full of imaginative violence and just enough tension to be a good time.


Before the killing starts, there is an excellent chemistry established between Cole and Bee that really carries the movie. When circumstances dictate they be on opposite sides, we can sense that not only is Cole is legitimately scared for his life, he's sincerely disappointed in yet another adult. His home life isn't terrible, but he often feels like his parents are avoiding him. To an extent, they are. He had higher hopes for Bee. Young Judah Lewis is really good in the role and keeps from becoming just another annoying movie kid. Samara Weaving is also excellent as Bee. She makes the switch from kind-hearted sitter to icy, homicidal maniac a believable one. If the name sounds familiar, it's because her uncle is none other than Agent Smith, Hugo Weaving. She has some chops of her own which she shows off by being both nurturing and menacing within the same film.

Like many horror flicks, the film falters in its depiction of anyone other than its main characters. The rest of the cast is a group of ancient stereotypes dressed in millennial clothing. One-time Disney star Bella Thorne shows up as a vapid blonde cheerleader. Hana Mae Lee of Pitch Perfect fame gets to play a goth Asian chick who is supposed to remind us of every Asian horror movie we've ever come across, her actual nationality be damned. There's also a vain, adrenaline junkie jock, and a wise-cracking black guy who will give anything to be rap star. They're all in a movie perfectly set up to play with these stereotypes and turn them on their heads. However, The Babysitter is content to trot them out to let them do what they've already done in hundreds of other movies. If there is any commentary on them at all, it's the already trite warnings about the selfishness of this generation and the dangers of being desperate for attention. It barely registers and takes a backseat to all the nuttiness. Fortunately, that nuttiness is enough to keep us into The Babysitter. It's combination of horror and comedy works to the point we can forgive some of its other shortcomings. As I said earlier, it's a film that wants to have fun. It never forgets that goal, relentlessly pursues, and achieves it. 


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8 comments:

  1. A really bloody version of Home Alone?

    Sign me up!!!

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  2. "This movie doesn't skimp on the bloodshed" isn't the best way to sell me on a film, but this sounds like it might be fun. In my case, it's probably not for sober viewing. :-)

    Great review, as always.

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    1. Fair point, but the bloodshed here s often cartoonish in the way it's spraying everywhere and pretty hard to take seriously. Thanks!

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    2. Silly, cartoonish bloodbaths are my favorite kind. :-)

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  3. I've heard varying opinions about it even though I'm not fond of McG as a filmmaker but I might give it a shot.

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    1. I'm with you on McG. He's generally terrible, but I enjoyed this one.

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