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The Babysitter Review

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The Babysitter is now streaming exclusively on Netflix.

 

It’s easy to judge the protagonist of a horror movie from the comfort of a movie theater or from your cozy little couch. But it’s important to remember that they’ve spent their whole lives completely unaware that they’d spend this one night fighting murderers to the death, and that their brains are coursing with panic and their bodies are coursing with adrenaline. It’s frustrating, but not unreasonable, that they would make poor decisions based on fight-or-flight instincts. Usually.

The Babysitter is now streaming exclusively on Netflix.

But you might want to draw the line at The Babysitter, a film about a kid who discovers that his babysitter is a maniac, and who at one point escapes the house and proceeds to… run back underneath the house and set up booby traps. There is literally nothing keeping him from running all the way to a neighbor’s house or to the nearest police station. No one is directly behind him. There is no electrified perimeter fence. Nobody will be killed if he doesn’t come back.

To be fair, The Babysitter isn’t trying to be brilliant. It’s a crass teen comedy that ogles young women, makes tawdry sex jokes and oversells every little moment just in case you didn’t get it. The words “WHAT THE F**K” literally fill the screen when our hero, Cole (Judah Lewis), sees his seemingly awesome babysitter, Bee (Samara Weaving), kill somebody.

The problem is that The Babysitter only needs to rely on the smallest amount of internal logic in order to work, as a horror movie or a comedy, and it can’t even get that right. Cole sees his babysitter and her friends commit a horrific act of violence, and now they’re out to get him. Cole, as we learn at the start of the movie, is a bit of a coward, and so he must overcome his fears in order to save his own life and the lives of others.

But the killers have a tendency to stop acting like killers whenever the filmmakers think it would be a funny joke — which it usually isn’t — and Cole has a tendency to do brave things long before he’s supposed to have learned how to be brave. The Babysitter is a comedy, obviously, but it’s still trying to tell a real, albeit simple story, and it can’t even cover its own bases.

It’s a shame too, because the idea is strong and the cast is doing their jobs. Judah Lewis is an amiable lead, and Samara Weaving — who also gives a breakout performance in this year’s cleverer, cooler horror-comedy Mayhem — proves that she’s a hilarious, unpredictable performer. The script has some clever ideas and set-pieces too. Who wouldn’t want to like a movie that goes out of its way to celebrate Billy Jack, of all films?

The Verdict

The Babysitter had potential but director McG treats this material like it’s one of the lamer American Pie sequels. The broadness of the humor detracts from the characters and the story and the horror, instead of complementing them. It may be manic enough to amuse some horror fans, but it’s so immature — even about its own immaturity — that it’s difficult to recommend.

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