Tuesday 8 December 2020

Movie Review: The Babysitter (2017)

A faux-horror gory comedy, The Babysitter aims at a limited number of targets but hits most of them.

12-year-old Cole (Judah Lewis) should really be too old for a babysitter, but he suffers from anxieties and bullying. At least his babysitter is the super cool and super hot Bee (Samara Weaving), who treats him well and knows how to have fun. Cole's parents (Leslie Bibb and Ken Marino) escape for a romantic getaway and leave Cole in Bee's care. 

After a day of fun activities Cole is determined to uncover what his babysitter is up to once he goes to sleep. He wakes himself up in the middle of the night and finds much more than he bargained for: Bee is the leader of a devil worshipping cult, now gathered in his house for a gory human sacrifice. Cole has to overcome his anxieties to fight for the right to retain most of his blood.

A self-aware laugh riot enjoying a bizarre premise, The Babysitter catches a snarky groove and just rides. Even when daggers are sunk into skulls (they are), bullets fly (they do) and jugulars are pierced (ouch), director McG is fully in tune with Brian Duffield's playfully witty script. This is blood-spurting horror generating fountains of laughs, designed for younger teens (just about) to enjoy along with their older siblings, who may be more attentive to the few moments of sexual titillation.

The zesty first half establishes the characters and plonks Cole into his predicament. The second half settles down to a series of one-on-one duels and loses some bite. Along the way the obvious lessons crawl from under the bed in the form of stomping childhood fears as an adulthood rite of passage. To stay alive Cole will have to escape from a window, hide with spiders, climb onto a dilapidating treehouse, outsmart his assailants and overcome his fear of driving - all before dawn. This kid will not worry about too many anxieties after this night.

A delight for movie fans, The Babysitter is littered with references to other movies featuring underdogs facing overwhelming odds, from Billy Jack to The Warriors passing through Lord Of The Rings, plus knowing nods to horror movie classics Carrie, Alien, Predator, Seven, and Friday The 13th. Duffield even finds an unlikely echo for The Godfather, Part II.

The performances are all played with the straightforward earnestness of horror movie villains and prey, young Judah Lewis comfortably occupying the eye of the storm. Samara Weaving finds the right balance between alluring and dangerous, while her devil-worshipping crew of stereotypes includes Bella Thorne (the self-obsessed vacuous cheerleader), Andrew Bachelor (hilarious as the wise-cracking Black dude) and Robbie Amell (the why shirtless? jock). Emily Alyn Lind is the girl-next-door potential-girlfriend-to-be just waiting for Cole to burst out of his anxiety shell.

The Babysitter wants to be clever, funny and mindless, and achieves all three.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

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