THE BABYSITTER (2017)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Directed by: McG

Written by: Brian Duffield

Starring: Samara Weaving, Judah Lewis, Hana Mae Lee, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Andrew Bachelor & Emily Alyn Lind

McG (real name: Joseph McGinty Nichol) isn’t exactly known for making great movies. Though I thought 3 DAYS TO KILL was a decent actioner, this man also gave us a subpar TERMINATOR movie, directed the lame action-rom-com THIS MEANS WAR, and helmed the “masterpieces” known as WE ARE MARSHALL and both CHARLIE’S ANGELS films. Like I said, McG isn’t known for making quality cinema. If THE BABYSITTER is any indication though, McG seems to have a solid knack for crafting fun horror comedy. Working from a stylish script and featuring a charismatic cast of characters, THE BABYSITTER is a bloody blast from beginning to end.

Innocent 12-year-old Cole Johnson (Judah Lewis) is constantly picked on by bullies and has a fear for seemingly everything around him. One thing that Cole has going for him is his friendship with hot babysitter Bee (Samara Weaving). Despite their obvious age difference, the babysitter-babysat pair get along fabulously and Cole is head-over-heels for Bee. One night, Cole decides to stay up past his bedtime to see what his babysitter and her friends do while he’s usually fast asleep. It turns out that Bee and her group of high school pals are actually Satanists who enjoy human sacrifice. Now that Cole has glimpsed their bloody hobby, he’s next on the chopping block. A life-or-death battle between a wimpy 12-year-old and a group of violent teens ensues…and it’s fun as hell!

THE BABYSITTER kicks itself off in the right fashion, beginning as a possible coming-of-age tale crossed with a teenage sex comedy. Judah Lewis and Samara Weaving sell their characters’ friendship as authentic, which makes the progressively crazy events a bit more affecting than I initially expected. THE BABYSITTER has a John Hughes vibe to its writing and characters. This Hughes-esque feeling isn’t simply reserved for the main relationship between the protagonist and antagonist. The rest of the teenage Satan-worshipping psychos (a cheerleader, a goth, a jock, and the token black guy) are more believable than you’d expect from a goofy, gory horror-comedy.

Speaking of which, THE BABYSITTER has a lot of wild kills and a fairly high body count. Many of these demises feel like ultra-violent versions of HOME ALONE scenes. No two kills are alike as each of the various victims receives a noteworthy death. You know that a slasher flick is doing something right when you are actually upset to see a few characters bite it early on because their on-screen presence will be missed. The blood flows freely and outright gushes in over-the-top fashion, though pretty much every death receives a punchline that ranges from chuckle-worthy to hysterically funny. A two-part explosion had me cracking up and sticks out as one of the major highlights in this film.

The only complaints that I have about THE BABYSITTER come from the film’s style occasionally trying too hard to sell its humor. During a few scenes, on-screen text outright interrupts the action. We see that a character has a pocket knife, but McG feels the need to add large text that reads something along the lines of “A pocket knife…bitches!” There’s an entire scene with the pocket knife that’s funny on its own merits, but this text doesn’t add anything to the proceedings and instead comes off as annoying. It’s like a discounted attempt at a SCOTT PILGRIM joke, but this film doesn’t maintain that style the whole way through. Also, the on-screen text straight up disappears after the halfway point, so it makes the viewer wonder why it was even included for the first half.

Aside from that damn on-screen text and a few punchlines that fall flat, THE BABYSITTER is frequently hilarious, ridiculously gory, always entertaining, and (at points) oddly heartfelt. If you want a great horror-comedy or a gory slasher in the vein of John Hughes’ coming-of-age comedies (a mixture that hasn’t really been executed in this way before), THE BABYSITTER is a safe bet for this Halloween season or any time of the year that you feel like indulging in a really cool (if slightly flawed) slasher comedy.

Grade: B+

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