Saturday, October 21, 2017

'The Babysitter' (2017) - A No Frills Review

A brutally honest, no-holds-barred take on the acclaimed Netflix original movie (surprise: I don't like it.)

By: Jimbo X

A lot of people have been telling me about this new Netflix movie called The Babysitter and how great it is. Considering I'm kind of a historian of degenerate slasher movies, I'm not really surprised. Everybody keeps saying the same thing. "Jimbo, this is your kind of movie," and "Jimbo, you would love this flick." So after the third or fourth person sung its praises to me, I decided to plug in my ex's old-password and give the movie the old look-see. 

Well, call me crazy, but I just don't see what the big deal is. All in all, I thought it was a pretty mediocre movie, with maybe one or two decent scenes, but on the whole it was a pretty humdrum affair.

I don't know why it's happening, but for whatever reason Hollyweird is all about the tweenspolitation horror these days. You've got It and you've got Stranger Things and now you've got this movie, about some 12-year-old dork caught up in some sort of Satanic ritual massacre, which sounds like something that could result in a pretty decent horror flick, but - yet again - the people who made this movie just didn't want to play it straight. Instead, it's one of those meta horror movies that's all self-reflexive and self-aware, which is meant to make it a comedy hybrid, when all it really does is display the incompetence on the scriptwriter's part.

Yes, it's another tongue-in-cheek, retro-baiting, made-by-fanboys-for-fanboys (un)original, this time helmed by, of all people, the pseudonym that directed the Charlie's Angels remake from 17 years ago. Now there are a couple of really good, nostalgia-rooted movies made over the last couple of years that are clearly meant to mimic the adolescent action-adventure movies of the 1980s. Ping Pong Summer and Cop Car immediately spring to mind. This one fails because, simply put, the "comedy" just don't work. This is the kind of movie where the producers want to pat themselves on the back for flashing onscreen text reading "what the fuck?" during murder scenes, the kind of flick where the writers think just mentioning the names of sci-fi characters is in and of itself hilarious. It's the kind of movie where 40-year-old genre dorks try to make 30-year-old actors playing 17-year-olds sound like the crusty, obese patrons of the local Dungeons & Dragons parlor, the kind of flick that just assumes niche nerd culture is now the dominant culture in the U.S. and we should all chuckle at lengthy, in-joke-laden dialogue exchanges about Star Trek and Predator. And worst of all, it's the kind of movie that thinks just splashing blood everywhere is a substitute for a lack of actual humor, and that watching airhead cheerleaders get stabbed in the titties and then spend the next half hour of the movie complaining about having just one boob left is the funniest shit ever in the universe. Remember that annoying asshole in the third grade who was always being a loudmouth little cocksucker and irritating everybody and disrupting class because he thought everything he was doing was so guldarn funny? Well, if that kid was a Netflix original, he would probably be this movie.

The movie starts off with a black, overweight male nurse giving a shot to a scrawny, nerdy white pre-teen. "Come here and take this shot just like you'd take some ass," he says, which I'm pretty sure constitutes a form of sexual harassment against a minor. After that we've got your oh-so-cliched slow-mo walk through the school shot, and we're introduced to the main character's obvious love interest in waiting, whose dad acts just like Rico from Napoleon Dynamite. "NASCAR nation, bitch!" he yells at sixth-graders while blaring gangsta rap. So, yeah, this is one of those movies where instead of having real people in it, everybody's a quirky, one-dimensional caricature of the kinds of people hipsters think reside in suburbia. Trust me - it gets way worse from here.

So, needless to say, this nerdy kid (his name's Cole, by the way) gets bullied quite a bit. There's this one fat black kid, in particular, that likes to give him the business, and he also likes to talk about bedding 16-year-olds. You know, between this and that one cartoon about the talking vaginas of seventh graders, Netflix isn't really doing a whole lot to dispel all those PizzaGate rumors about the company. I mean, at all.

Then Samara Weaving shows up as the titular character and tells Cole "you gotta' punch them in the dick" to solve his bully problem. Oh, the joys of living in a manic pixie fantasy land dreamed up by obviously beta Hillary Clinton supporters. You know, one where high school cheerleaders use video game terminology like "big bad" as if they even give a fuck what kind of lingo the racist nerds on 4Chan use, anyway. 

Then Cole's dad gives him a driving lesson at a race track and promises he'll let him binge watch Mad Men with him when he's older (god, do I hate these Hollywood straw-parents who run around saying "jorts" like its intrinsically hilarious and all post-post-postmodern and shit.)

You know, if she's going to kill the poor sap, she could at least have the decency to slip him a little bit of tongue before he dies.

So obviously Cole is crushing on Bee, but the girl his own age down the street is crushing on him and then he gets jealous because she's fliritng with some gangly dork. Then his parents go away for a holiday and Cole and Bee disco dance and watch Billy Jack on their garage door and talk about which fictitious characters they would take with them on an intergalactic suicide mission (oh, just kill me now, why don't you.) So the girl down the street keeps sending Cole texts about orgies and he gets curious and sneaks down stairs and sees Bee and her gang of suspiciously multicultural best pals playing a game of spin the bottle and SWERVE! The sitter and all her pals are actually part of some Satanic cult that stabs people in the head and eats virgin blood. 

Time to meet the rest of the cast. We've got the token black dude who says stuff like "Carrie would've been better if she was black, she would be covered in Hennessey" and "you know what happens when you kill someone? They lose all their Instagram followers and shit." Then you've got Bella Thorne as the bimbo cheerleader who gets shot in the tit-tays by the police and says "no dude's gonna motorboat these" and "who's gonna' wanna' suck on my nipples?" Then there's the jock Chad boyfriend, who runs around without a shirt on the whole movie and this one Asian chick who wears too much eye shadow. And they all decide it's probably a good idea to sacrifice the kid, so just like that the movie turns into Clive Barker's Home Alone, with all the demonic teens trying to capture Cole and our wee-sized hero trying to off 'em one by one with firecrackers and mouse traps.

The cops show up pretty early, but naturally, they all get killed off by the devil worshiping high schoolers. The black dude is the first to die (genre law mandates it, after all, but let's face it - after ten minutes of screen-time, the writers ran out of high-larious "black things" for him to say, anyway) and then the Asian broad gets blown up after a loooooong crawlspace chase sequence. Then the shirtless Chad almost strangles the kid to death, but then the fat black bully from earlier shows up to egg his house and the would-be strangler tells the kid "this is America, you need to wreck his ass." So Cole challenges the fat black bully to a fight, and of course, gets his ass promptly kicked. There's a chase up and through the abandoned treehouse (complete with the most unbelievable "accidental" hanging mishap in movie history) and the kid runs across the street to his not-canonical-yet-girlfriend's place and Bee chases after him with a shotgun en tow (this stuff takes forever, by the way.)

So Cole goes back into his own house to stare down Bee, but the cheerleader from earlier ain't quite dead yet, but rest assured she'll be dead enough in just a few minutes. Eventually, Cole and Bee do have their climactic showdown, which comes in the form of Cole stealing Bee's ride and driving it through his kitchen window while "We Are the Champions" plays for no real reason other than "lol, random-ness." After that we get a wholly inauthentic, pseudo-syrupy finale with the demonic babysitter giving a mea culpa while trapped underneath the axle of a Chevy Blazer and she appears to die, but come on - you KNOW what's going to happen in the post-credits stinger and you don't even need me to tell you, neither.

So for those of you keeping score at home, we've got eight dead bodies. No breasts (what's the deal there?) One lesbian tongue lock. Fire poker through the eyeball. Throat slitting. Awards placard through the jugular. One exploding head. One exploding basement. One flipped car, with totally demolished dining room area. One unintentional hanging. Up-close needle poking. Cookie force-feeding. Gratuitous slow-motion disco dancing. Gratuitous Friday the 13th references. Gratuitous titty punching. Gratuitous Billy Jack re-enactments. Pocket knife fu. Hand job fu. Firecracker fu. Mousetrap fu. And the thing more or less responsible for the movie existing in the first place ... some serious contributing to the delinquency of a minor fu.

Starring Samara Weaving as Bee, the Satanic babysitter who drive daggers through the skulls of high school nerds and steals blood from 12-year-olds so she can conjure up the the forces of darkness; Judah Lewis as Cole, the 12-year-old needlephobe who doesn't know the differences between prostitutes and Protestants and has to Google search what an "orgy" is; Bella Thorne as the bisexual cheerleader super-slut who sold her soul to the devil so she could be an MSNBC host; Andrew "King Bach" Bachelor as the unfunny black guy who keeps saying things black people only say in the minds of white democrats; and Robbie Amell as the guy who's really, really opposed to wearing shirts.

Written by Brian Duffield, the same guy who wrote Insurgent and Jane Got a Gun and directed by McG, whose first movie in four years isn't exactly a happy return to form. Then again, considering the guy's creative apex was making music videos for Sugar Ray, maybe the he never really had that much of a form to return to in the first place.

I'll give it a ho-hum two stars out of four. It has its moments, but all in all it's just another soulless genre movie that thinks making offhanded references to other movies constitutes "comedy," and that with enough arterial explosions, none of us will pick up on how plastic and unnatural all of the dialogue sounds. Which, as we all know by now, can only be offset by lots and lots of ample female nudity ... something The Babysitter, unfortunately, is all but devoid of.


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