Baby-Sitting is a Dangerous Job
The Babysitter is directed by McG and stars Samara Weaving, Judah Lewis, Hana Mae Lee, Robbie Amell, and Bella Thorne.
For about 30 minutes, I was convinced that The Babysitter was going to end up as a total piece of garbage. The acting was stiff. The plot seemed to be going nowhere fast. The production design looked completely artificial and almost nauseating to look at. I was seriously questioning what in the world I was doing to myself and why did I pick this movie to watch above anything else I could have been watching in my apartment that rainy Friday night. And then all of a sudden, just when it seemed like the movie was making the descent into the abyss of mediocrity, a guy gets stabbed in the head with two knives. Blood starts gushing out everywhere, and all of a sudden, a rush of relief came over me. The Babysitter appeared to have transformed into a completely different film, one that almost had me feeling forgiving to whatever the hell I was watching during the previous 30 minutes. What we have here in The Babysitter, as it turns out in the long run, is a teen horror comedy that never takes itself seriously, fully embracing the absurdity on hand and never failing to be amusing. I can't guarantee you'll remember it long after it's over, though for someone in my situation- someone feeling like I left a void during October because I hardly watched any horror movies that month- it does the job.
The story follows nerdy twelve-year old Cole Johnson (Judah Lewis). Presumably because Cole lacks self-esteem, he still has a babysitter. His babysitter is the modelesque blonde Bee (Samara Weaving), who loves having geeky, sci-fi conversations with him. One day, Cole's parents decide to go and have an overnight stay at a hotel, leaving Cole and Bee to spend a fun night together at Cole's house. After Cole goes to bed, he stays up and texts his neighbor Melanie (Emily Alyn Lind), who encourages him to go and see what Bee likes to do after she tucks Cole into bed. Cole observes Bee and several of her friends playing a game of truth or dare, but things quickly take a turn for the worst when Bee suddenly kills one of the guys there. Bee and the others reveal themselves to be members of some kind of demonic cult, and Cole soon finds himself in a fight for his life.
I honestly don't know what I can say about this movie that would have any sort of critical value. The movie is a breezy 85 minute gore-fest that is good for a few laughs. I can't help but wonder though, would this movie have been even more entertaining had it tried to take itself seriously but end up looking like seriously incompetent? I will love and adore anything that I can anoint with the title of Unintentional Hilarity, and The Babysitter certainly looks like on paper that it has the potential to be Unintentional Hilarity. However, since the movie is purposefully treating itself like a comedy, there can be no Unintentional Hilarity, so so much for that idea. Luckily, The Babysitter does not subject us to bad comedy, the worst audio, visual product known to mankind, so a sigh of relief on that front.
- The Babysitter does not make any attempts to be disgusting torture porn. Director McG designs the kills and the blood splattering in specific enough ways to ensure that there is always a laugh to be had. With the characters smack-talking each other the way teenagers would likely smack-talk each other, and with Cole - a twelve year old boy - outsmarting Bee and a group of high-school students that are clearly older, stronger, and faster than he is, it all adds up to some giddy, nonsensical entertainment that has the kind of spirit inherent to the likes of Evil Dead 2, although unlike Evil Dead 2, there is virtually nothing about The Babysitter that I can confidently acknowledge as scary. Regardless, the movie knows how to be fun, and that has to count for something.
- Try as I might, I just could not forgive The Babysitter for its appalling first 30 minutes, where Judah Lewis seemed to not know how to act, and the production design took the liberty of assaulting my eyes with unbridled rage. I don't know what the direction was by McG for Judah Lewis up until he goes up against Bee and her gang; Lewis fails quite spectacularly in portraying a nerdy, socially awkward boy who we're supposed to find charming, at least, I think we're supposed to find him charming. There is nothing that feels natural about Lewis in the early going, looking stiff and robotic in his movements and especially in his facial expressions. This was a character that I felt no sympathy for, and I began grieving at the thought that I had to put up with him for another 45 or so minutes. And then, something magical happened: as soon as Bee kills the guy with the two knives, Judah Lewis suddenly starts acting. It's as if Samara Weaving actually killed the actor in order to get a genuine reaction out of Lewis and have him get his act together (no pun intended, sorry).
As for the production design, and the cinematography while we're at it, freaking hell. The houses, the insides of the houses, the grass, the sky, everything is deliberately color corrected and to such a heightened extent that scenes appear to glow with the raging fury of a thousand screaming colors. None of it looks cute, artistic, or visually appealing in any conceivable way, and I'm so glad that most of the movie takes place at night time where we barely have to see any of it.
There was some serious self-questioning going on during the first 30 minutes of The Babysitter, but luckily, the film rescues itself from total disaster with an entertaining and gory second half that never takes itself seriously. And while the second blood-filled half does enough to make up for the egregious wrongs of the first half, put it all together, and The Babysitter is a passable teen horror comedy that makes for a good waste of 85 minutes. I wonder if McG was drunk while they were shooting the first 30 minutes, and then someone snapped him back to reality when they started filming the gory parts. If that's the story, then I don't want to know what the hell he was drinking.
Recommend? If you're in the mood to watch something on Netflix, but can't decide on anything, go with this movie.
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