McG made a decent movie?
McG has been one of those filmmakers that I never quite understood how the hell he even got a job in Hollywood in the first place. Researching a bit lead me to discover he used to direct music videos for Sugar Ray and Smashmouth, which lead Drew Barrymore to recommending him for the job of directing Charlie’s Angels (2000). Thus beginning an absolutely bland career in filmmaking including giving us yet another Terminator film and a godawful romantic comedy. However, after multiple critical failures over the past decade or so; McG decided to sit down, actually develop a coherent idea in his pop-culture riddled mind, and make a decent throwback to 80s teenage horror with The Babysitter.
Our erstwhile hero is Cole (Judah Lewis), a 12-year-old timid boy who’s parents still hire a babysitter every time they go out. While he’s mercilessly bullied for it, few of them wouldn’t say no to who the babysitter is, the attractive Bee (Samara Weaving) who also has a mean streak about her as well. Encouraged by a lovesick neighbor (Emily Alyn Lind) to stay up past his bed time and check out if Bee invites boys over for hanky panky, Cole discovers to his amusement that Bee is playing spin the bottle with several of her friends which include a stereotypical jock (Robbie Amell), stereotypical goth (Hana Mae Lee), stereotypical cheerleader (Bella Thorne), and stereotypical Black friend (Andrew “King Bach” Bachelor). However, things turn decidedly un-cute when Bee and her collection of 80s tropes ritualistically murder a geek in their group to perform a Satanic ritual. High jinks ensue as Cole tries to survive the night with a cult of idiotic teenagers in his home, leading to a body count of gory deaths in spectacular, comical fashion.
The film reminds me of all the schlocky horror flicks that the 80s produced on the regular, but took out all pretensions of anything being “scary” and instead being an exercise in getting the audience to laugh with just how preposterous and ridiculous the deaths can be. Basically, The Babysitter is a loving parody of that genre of film rather than some scum-sucking parasite on the trail of well-trodden ground. It works mostly because McG, for all his faults, knows at least to shove in to his works as much vibrant color as possible along with self-referential dialogue. Mercifully he knew this time to dial it back some so it doesn’t become obnoxious as it was in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle or This Means War, and instead becomes a pleasing romp as a bunch of stereotypes get viciously murdered through no fault but their own, as a cowardly little boy tries to flee from their clutches. Yes, there’s drops of Home Alone in here for good measure.
Now it helps that like Home Alone you have a fun protagonist in Cole, and Judah Lewis does well with what he’s given. It’s not a particularly deep role, and most of his dialogue is about filled with Big Bang Theory nerd-talk to almost becoming grating, but Lewis does a decent job of seeming like a scaredy cat and trying to inject as much personality into his Hat–like qualities. But the real star of the show is Samara Weaving’s Bee, sultry and intimidating at the same time, she does a decent job of selling you the whole femme fatale angle in the first half of the film, but she becomes conspicuously absent during the second half of the film until the final confrontation in the last 10 minutes. It was an odd choice considering how charismatic Weaving was, and how forgettable her character’s friends were.
See the jock, the goth, the cheerleader and the Black guy each take turns hunting down Cole, but they do in the most idiotic way imaginable that it could be the world’s most pathetic boss rush. While they have different looks about them, they all behave and act like shallow, clueless dipshits…because they are being portrayed by shallow, clueless disphits. Sorry, I meant Vine Stars when that social media trend was actually popular. Sure the four all look like models, but not one of them can act their way out of a paper bag. Maybe that’s why there’s a certain satisfaction in seeing them grissly murdered in the stupidest way imaginable. Think the dumb ass teens accidentally killing themselves in Tucker & Dale vs. Evil.
And sure enough, when the blood starts flowing, the film perks alive with comedic potential. It hits more than it doesn’t, but I can see why a major studio didn’t exactly beg to release this film and how Netflix got their hands on it instead. But unlike some worthless Adam Sandler affair, The Babysitter serves Netflix’s audiences purposes of a decent flick to catch on the couch while enjoying popcorn or “chilling.” I think people will enjoy this if there in the mood for some goofy horror, so I’ll give this an enthusiastic…