Samara Weaving, Judah Lewis, Bella Thorne, Robbie Amell, Andrew Bachelor, Hana Mae Lee, Emily Alyn Lind
…a cheerfully perverse, juvenile attitude to boobs and blood means there’s definitely an audience…
Following on from her turn in the Australian psychological thriller Bad Girl, Samara Weaving is once again hiding evil intent under a welcoming, not to mention sexually alluring, facade in the Netlfix original horror comedy, The Babysitter.
Weaving is Bee, teenage babysitter and object of both affection and desire to her 12 year old charge, Cole (Judah Lewis). And why not? For one thing, she looks like Samara Weaving, positioned as a very American kind of adolescent sex dream via director McG’s exceedingly male-gazey camera, all short shorts, perfect teeth and honey-coloured hair. For another, she’s the kind of “cool girl” who can go answer for answer at sci-fi trivia games and quote along to a cult movie like Billy Jack (screenwriter Brian Duffield might be indulging in a little wish fulfillment here, bless him).
But she’s eeeevil, and plans to use Cole as a blood sacrifice in a magic ritual, along with the help of her hunky and hot high school coven (Bella Thorne, Robbie Amell, Andrew Bachelor, Hana Mae Lee). And so we’re off on a horrific Home Alone riff (the film even openly acknowledges the debt via dialogue at one point), with Cole trying to stay out of the cult’s clutches as the body count rises and the claret is spilled with gusto.
The Babysitter sits right at the crossroads of Passable and Problematic – if McG’s lens leering at Weaving and her co-stars is a dealbreaker for you, it’s best to steer clear (to be fair, Amell spends most of the film shirtless – a concession for those whose tastes run to beefcake). There’s some business about Cole undergoing a rite de passage, but it never hits home enough to give the proceedings any real emotional heft. We do get some fun gore gags, though, from one hapless character taking a fire poker through the eye socket, to another straight up exploding in a welter of gore.
McG has never been the most restrained of directors, and even here he doesn’t trust the guileless material to connect with the audience, peppering the already OTT story with jarring freeze-frames and to-the-audience captions – think Zombieland, but not as sly. Still, he handles the action well, which is the main KPI in something like this.
The Babysitter is not going to set anyone’s world on fire, but strong, engaging performances, a brisk pace, and a cheerfully perverse, juvenile attitude to boobs and blood means there’s definitely an audience who will groove to its undeniable but still limited charms.