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John’s Horror Corner: The Babysitter (2017), a visually striking horror-comedy populated by Raimi-esque blood-spewing, pop culture references galore and truly lovable characters.

May 30, 2018

MY CALL: Along with Happy Death Day (2017), this film is setting the new standard for the horror-comedy. Wonderfully written, acted and shot, filled with great characters, and on top of that it’s both hilarious and gory, yet never scary. MORE MOVIES LIKE The Babysitter Few films compare, but Piranha 3D (2010), Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010), Final Destination 5 (2011), Cooties (2015), Deathgasm (2015), Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015) and especially Happy Death Day (2017) come to mind. For yet more horror comedy in general try Critters (1986), Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh (1991), Leprechaun (1993), Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009), Chillerama (2011), Piranha 3DD (2012), The Cabin in the Woods (2012), Bad Milo (2013), Warm Bodies (2013), Burying the Ex (2014), Smothered (2014), Housebound (2014), Zombeavers (2014), The Voices (2014),  He Never Died (2015), Ava’s Possessions (2015), The Final Girls (2015), What We Do in the Shadows (2015), Krampus (2015; not exactly comedy, but occasionally hilarious), Love in the Time of Monsters (2015) and The Greasy Strangler (2016).

I’ve just gotta’ say WOW. In the first 10-20 minutes of this film I had completely forgotten I was watching a horror movie as I was introduced to an array of wonderfully lovable characters. From our over-worrisome preteen Cole, to his endearingly mean bullies, his nice neighbor (Emily Alyn Lind; Lights Out, The Haunting in Connecticut 2), his awesome yet credibly funny and refreshingly “real” parents, and ultimately his off-the-charts perhaps coolest ever (to even her angsty, heavily crushing evening charge) babysitter Bee (Samara Weaving; Mayhem, Ash vs Evil Dead)—we can instantly gather how much the writer, director and cast cared about what would transpire on film. This is so funny, yet not quite over-the-top while still being over-the-top, that I could watch them on a sitcom or in a PG-13 comedy all day.

Director McG (Terminator Salvation) is an expert at likeable characters (Charlie’s Angels), feisty sexiness without being overly raunchy (Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle), and being occasionally over-the-top. And, you know what, it really shows here. He has clearly mastered his craft and did so crossing genres! No simple feat! It’s like McG is speaking to us of what he loves most about fatherhood, marriage and (mostly) adolescence through these characters. Cole’s boob stare was totally understandably human for a boy with a hot, geekcentric, cinephilic babysitter. We’ve all lived that moment of weakness and the scene didn’t feel cheap at all. Plus, she was so awesomely full of pop culture references! How could he not have a crush on her?

Bee is my dream girl. She includes a xenomorph egg, two Star Trek captains (from two different series) and the Independence Day gang in her intergalactic dream team, she breathes movie references dating back 35 years ago (e.g., E. T., Aliens, Predator), she’s geekathetic, and she’s gorgeous. From the time Bee rescues Cole from his bully to getting instructions from Cole’s Mom (Leslie Bibb; Flight 7500, Trick ‘r Treat, Midnight Meat Train, Hell Baby) and Dad (Ken Marino; Bad Milo) for her overnight babysitting gig, she is a charming joy to watch—and so is everyone else. I know, I won’t shut up about these characters. But they MADE THE MOVIE! And they made it awesome and fun and refreshing and rewatchable.

Best GIF ever. You’re welcome.

Bee and Cole proceed to enjoy the best babysitting day EVER complete with dance-offs, science fiction banter, swimming, homemade pizza and backyard movie projectors. After Cole goes to sleep, Bee’s friends John, Max, Sonya (Hana Mae Lee; Pitch Perfect 1-3), Allison (Bella Thorne; MTV’s Scream, Amityville: The Awakening) and Samuel (Doug Haley; Heroes) stop by for a game of Truth or Dare that takes an interesting turn into human sacrifice, witchcraft and what appears to be a flesh-bound Necronomicon.

Raimi-esque blood-spews ensue to maintain the grin-worthy nature of this horror comedy. Things turn into an occasionally gory mess, Cole rightfully questions Max’s shredded-abbed shirtlessness, cat-and-mouse victim hunting proceeds, and Cole finds clever (or accidental) ways to defeat his young adult foes as we are Ready Player One’d with yet more pop culture references to The Warriors (1979), Star Trek: TNG (1987-1994) and Friday the 13th (1980).

PODCAST SIDEBAR: If you want to know more about The Babysitter, check out our in-depth podcast discussion: Episode 129: The Babysitter. Mark did TONS of research on the film (along with a solid review) and the behind-the-scenes. You’ll walk away with an appreciation for how inconsiderate it was for Forrest Gump (1994) to eat Jenny’s chocolates, intergalactic space team assemblages, and whether Bee (Samara Weaving) is actually “evil” and how old she might truly be. You may also enjoy Episode 116: Happy Death Day.

That’s it, folks. I have nothing but love for this film and hope you watch and feel the same! Enjoy.

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. May 30, 2018 10:03 am

    I thought this movie looked really stupid from the trailer but now I think I might have to check it out! 🙂 Excellent review, you might have converted me on watching this!

    • John Leavengood permalink
      May 30, 2018 10:12 am

      I was in the same boat. It looked dumb and probably funny, but I was in no rush until some trusted friends raved about it, as we did in our podcast as well. I cannot praise this enough. Just be wary, ZERO scare factor. Gore, yes. But no scares at all.

      • May 30, 2018 10:15 am

        Well, the only horror movie I’ve ever seen that I actually thought was both funny and scary was “An American Werewolf in London” (and maybe that’s because I saw it for the first time when I was like twelve,) and I’m not scared by films easily. I’m not really expecting scares from this movie. 🙂

    • John Leavengood permalink
      May 30, 2018 10:16 am

      Evil Dead 2 was funny and… unnerving. Maybe no terror, but some jump scare factor for those seeing it for the first time. And the zombie deadite ballerina dance is still a bit harrowingly weird for me. That stop-motion was perfectly weird.

      • May 30, 2018 10:18 am

        I actually wasn’t crazy about that movie or the first “Evil Dead.” I’m not sure why, they just didn’t do it for me. I understand that most people love them though. 🙂

    • John Leavengood permalink
      May 30, 2018 10:27 am

      Evil Dead 2 was my FIRST R-rated horror movie. I adore it.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      May 30, 2018 10:52 am

      I was 9 or 10 years old.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      May 30, 2018 11:08 am

      I don’t recall being long-term freaked out. Very unnerved while watching, but apparently I took to it quite well.

      • May 30, 2018 12:11 pm

        I would have had nightmares for weeks! I watched “The Shining” when I was about twelve, and I was freaked out by hotel bathrooms for ages- not hotels, just the bathrooms. I had to look behind the curtains to make sure that gross cackling bathtub-lady wasn’t there. 😀 Now it’s one of my favorite horror movies, and it still creeps me out a little.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      May 30, 2018 12:19 pm

      The Shining I think I saw in middle school for the first time. Freaked me out… and much more than Evil Dead 2. I think the slapstick nature of ED2 made it more doable at my young age.

  2. May 30, 2018 10:24 am

    I enjoyed this movie. I think the set-up was great and I really loved the bond between Bee and Cole. It was interesting how she obviously cared for him yet wanted him dead and then later was proud of him. That sets up a mysterious relationship and gives Bee a good villain arch as well. The tone of the film maintains a clean cut feel to it, which helps create a great vibe to the terror that ensues. Kind of like mixing bright red sand into a large bowl of pure white sand.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      May 30, 2018 10:28 am

      Their bond was unrivaled. I was really conflicted as to whom I wanted to win: Cole or Bee.

Trackbacks

  1. John’s Horror Corner INDEX: a list of all my horror reviews by movie release date | Movies, Films & Flix
  2. John’s Horror Corner: Bloodsucking Bastards (2015), a rather generic horror comedy about a vampire takeover in the office. | Movies, Films & Flix
  3. John’s Horror Corner: Cold Skin (2017), elegantly mixing Dagon (2001) with The Descent (2005) in this gorgeous film! | Movies, Films & Flix
  4. John’s Horror Corner: Summer of 84 (2018), a reimagined Disturbia meets a solid Stranger Things 80s score. | Movies, Films & Flix
  5. John’s Horror Corner: Apostle (2018), an inspired “folk horror” Netflix original about a remote pagan cult. | Movies, Films & Flix

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