The Babysitter (2017) Review

Slashing its way onto Netflix this Friday 13th, McG’s “The Babysitter” is a Hallowe’en “Home Alone” delight.

When his parents leave for a weekend getaway, 12-year-old Cole (Judah Lewis) doesn’t really mind that he’s the only kid in his class who still has a Babysitter. And, to be fair, who would if their babysitter was the super-awesome, smokin’ hot Bee (Samara Weaving)? But Bee isn’t as cool as she seems, as Cole finds out when he decides to stay up past his bedtime and spy on what babysitters do when the kids have gone to sleep.

There’s something almost endearing about how workmanlike and obviously the film lines up all of its Chekhov’s Guns in a neat row for later, but once the fun begins, there’s a joy in figuring out just where and when they’re going to pop up. The movie’s masterstroke, though, is in the character of Bee, the literally too-good-to-be-true babysitter of your dreams/ nightmares. Samara Weaving’s performance is terrific, reminiscent of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn without being a direct knock-off and she and Cole have so much fun and such a rapport that even when things go bad, you’re still kind of rooting for her too.

Speaking of knock-offs, there’s a good amount of borrowing from the classics of the slasher genre like “Friday The 13th” and “Halloween” albeit with a very “Scream”-like ironic awareness. Cast-wise, it might have been nice to have a bit more fun with Leslie Bibb and Ken Marino’s mum and dad but they serve their purpose and then exit stage left, popping back to lend a hand a bit later on. Bee’s friends are a mixed bunch, with Hana Mae Lee (“Pitch Perfect”) and Andrew ‘King Bach’ Bachelor providing plenty of laughs (Bachelor is one of the movie’s MVPs and deserved way more screen time) while Bella Thorne riffs on the horror movie cheerleader cliché. Then there’s Robbie Amell, who may bring sick abs but also brings abs-olutely nothing else to the party. Apart from appearing shirtless and being hilariously, repeatedly, called out on it, Amell is what he usually is: flavourless beefcake. He’s so lacking in charisma, he forms a kind of blandness singularity, a beige event horizon from which no remains of personality can escape.

Director McG is more than aware of this, however, and has plenty of tricks and treats up his sleeve to keep the pacing and thrills dialled all the way up from the moment spin the bottle spins out of control. Clumsy set-up aside, there’s a devilishly black sense of humour at work in the script from Brian Duffield (“Insurgent”) and this is a horror movie which has its tongue (and occasionally a kitchen knife) firmly in cheek.

You probably couldn’t ask for a better movie treat for Friday the 13th, a splash of gore, a variety of imaginative death scenes and a killer sense of humour. Don’t tell mom The Babysitter’s awesome.

8/10 

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