WARNING: THIS BLOG CONTAINS BODYCOUNT. HIGH RISK OF SPOILERS. ENTER IF YOU DARE.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Dream Girls Can Be A Nightmare: The Babysitter (2017)

The Babysitter (2017)
Rating: ****
Starring: Judah Lewis, Samara Weaving, Robbie Amell

By this time, we all know babysitting's a doomed profession should you ever find yourself living in a horror film: if you're not being stalked by a maniac in a William Shatner mask, you're probably being taunted by a creepy voice on the other end of a phone call, or finding out that the kid you are looking after is really the son of the devil. Or not really a kid at all! Yep, babysitters sure get the bad end of the tooth-and-nail trappings as a horror cliche quite a lot, don't they? But what if we turn things around a bit? What if the babysitter is the bad end?

Twelve-year old Cole (Judah Lewis) is, in his and everybody else's word, a pussy. He is afraid of needles, spiders, driving a car on his own and a very dorky bully who I'm sure wouldn't last 30 seconds in a real fight. As timid as he is, Cole is still lucky as he does have a few peeps looking out for him, mainly his adorkable parents, his best (girl) friend Melanie, and Bee (Samara Weaving), his family's got-to babysitter.

Now, let's discuss Bee; of all the babysitters you'd wish be real, she is definitely one of them! Sexy, pretty, witty, blonde, hardass and badass, yet just as big of a scifi nerd as Cole is, Bee's undoubtedly too cool to hang around with a little dork like Cole but by the luck of the heavens, here she is, again happily looking after him while his parents go out for the night. (probably to have sex)

As the two have the time of their lives discussing their dream "galactic team-up", baking pizzas, watching old Westerns and talking about that cute neighbor girl who Cole may have a bit of crush on, it wasn't long before Bee temps our boy his first beer and, suspecting his babysitter's trying to get him drunk and drowzy to have her own private time, Cole feigns being sleepy so he can sneak a peek at what happens whenever he clocks out. Oh, how he wished he hadn't done that.

True enough, Bee invited some friends over for a PG-rated game of Spin the Bottle, mainly consisting of bitchy cheerleader Allison (Bella Thorne), uber jock Max (Robbie Amell), intense goth Sonya (Hana Mae Lee), the quip-ready John (Andrew Bachelor) and, an apparent new addition to the crew, dorkus magnus Samuel (Doug Haley). What should have been a hot kiss-a-thon between these slasher victim stereotypes, however, Cole instead saw them murder Samuel for a blood ritual and it seems they'll be needing one more thing to complete it: the blood of an innocent. AKA Cole's.

From there, The Babysitter transforms from a dorky coming-of-age story for the millennial youth nerd to something I like to call a "reverse slasher", wherein Bee's group of atypical (and mostly stupid) maniacs hunts down Cole after he is made aware of their secret blood pact with the underworld and it is up to the kid to stop them with any means necessary, apparently including blowing one up with a fat firecracker. It's a twist on the old bodycount flick that, though isn't new (see Hunter's Blood (1987), Psympatico (2014) and, at some extent, You're Next (2011)), still delivers all the gooey red fun and thrilling chases a by-the-book slasher could, with a bonus genuine Edgar Wright/John Hughes-inspired comedy that a bit of a rarity nowadays.

A fun thing about The Babysitter is that, early on, it has the makings of a loud, brash and obnoxious teen horror flick that could have tried too hard that it'll flop. Infested with pop songs and psuedo-referential preteen dialogue, dragging along some crazy visuals and camera effects for the sake of being hip and fun, one would have assume it would go downhill after 10 to 30 minutes but, quite surprisingly, not only did this film found a way to maintain the sarcastic self-referencing nature of the plot and keep it enjoyable thanks to its strangely upbeat direction, skillful writing and wonderful talents involved, but it also found a way to have a bit of a heart with it and slows down whenever it is needed to.

The comedy and exploitation elements are fun and all (Damn, that girl-on-girl kiss! Damn that Andrew Bachelor is friggin hilarious! Damn, why is Max shirtless for the rest of the film?!), and one can always find something exciting from a good stalk-and-stab especially if you're as big of a fan of slasher flicks as I am and have a good appreciation for (mostly) practical effects (keep an "eye" on a fire poker kill. It's "mind" bogglingly brutal!), but what made The Babysitter much more memorable is the chemistry between Cole and Bee. It's difficult to explain, but the way they're both written shows a genuine friendship between the two characters and that they really do care with one another even if shit hits the fan. It's this kind of characterization that kept me glued until the end of the film, just rooting to see how much both Cole and Bee grew up in this situation, and I have no one else to thanks but Weaving and Lewis' performances as their respective roles. These two are gonna go places!

Marvelous as The Babysitter is as a wittily-scribed bloody teen horror comedy, it is not without its tiny flaws which mostly consists on how too obscure and strange the villains can get (stop in the middle of murdering your victim just to teach them how to stand up against a bully? As funny as that is, I'm still a bit confused what the point of that was.) and a few moments that are too outrageous even for a movie involving Satanic blood rituals. (car crash without a seat belt not equals dead driver?) They're little nitpicks, easily looked over for the sake of being fun and funny while actually getting results so it's still all good!

It's for the best to experience The Babysitter on its freshest, which means it's time to get off your butt (or don't since it is available on Netflix as of writing this) and see one of this year's best horror comedy! A perfect midnight movie for your warm popcorn and chugs of soda!

Bodycount:
1 male stabbed on the head with daggers
1 male had his throat cut with a dagger
1 male gets a fire poker thrown through his head, torn open
1 male falls and impaled neck-first through a trophy
1 female immolated by a firework (twice)
1 male had his neck tangled on a rope, hanged
1 female had her head shot off with a shotgun
1 male attacked with a knife, presumably killed
Total: 8

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