Directed by McG and written by Brian Duffield, when Cole stays up past his bedtime, he discovers that his babysitter belongs to a satanic cult that will stop at nothing to keep him quiet. Starring: Judah Lewis, Samara Weaving, Robbie Amell, Hana Mae Lee, Bella Thorne, Emily Alyn Lind, Andrew Bachelor, Doug Haley, Leslie Bibb and Ken Marino.
Satanic cults were much more the thrill of choice for horror films back in the 70s and 80s when people were susceptible enough to believe that they a real-life threat but they’re slowly making a comeback with films like Ready or Not, Midsommar and Hereditary. Although this film immediately throws back to 80s slasher flicks: the colour scheme, the energy, the bullies and the affluent neighbourhoods, not to mention the classic American obsession with attractive babysitters. However, that’s not to say it isn’t heavily influenced by the modern audience it’s targeting, it’s extremely clear that this film was built to please the Instagram generation and will likely do so.
One of the few universally good aspects of the film is its cast, Samara Weaving clearly has a lot more to offer the horror genre let alone any others, Hana Mae Lee is a dark horse who needs to get more screen time because she’s a dastardly delight, Robbie Amell is extremely reliable and uses his good looks hugely ironically, Andrew Bachelor adds a cocky style of comedy and Bella Thorne is a nice touch on clichéd perspective. More surprisingly though is the lead, Judah Lewis whose performance feels reminiscent of Ex Oxenbould in The Visit or one of the losers from IT, he’s convincingly naïve but extremely resourceful, a classic Home Alone blend of skills. He has a typical nerdy, sweet charm to him but he’s also quite funny and makes a very easy lead to watch and character to root for.
The direction is first and foremost the transparent aspect of what sort of audience the film is looking for, the different styles McG uses are all flash and no real style, it tries to throw in everything that young audiences might have enjoyed and is the farthest thing from subtle. It could certainly be considered heavy handed with its choices and it’s unsurprisingly average. Even though it does clearly pay homage to films like Halloween, being primarily made for a younger audience, it doesn’t even really attempt to build any of the intense tension or suspense you’d find in a film like that. You could compare it more to something like Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, for it’s accidentally successful violence and light-hearted tone but with only a spoonful of its humour. The writing is incredibly basic, other than a couple of inventive ways to kill people, it doesn’t have a lot to offer; it isn’t inherently funny or new leaning too much on making fun of PC language, it’s fairly predictable and it all goes according to plan, it’s just a little too shiny and perky.
The Babysitter is the film equivalent of a pop song, it’s made for a certain group of people and does everything it can to serve them while not offering too much in the form of originality. That’s not to say it isn’t entertaining, it fits well with the cheesy teen slashers of the 80s and is an easy watch for when you want throwaway entertainment. If it weren’t for the fantastic casting, it probably wouldn’t be worth watching but as an ensemble they’re undeniably great and bring the majority of the charm that it has to offer. It’s not going to be making its way into any horror film halls of fame but its attempts to capture the spirit of slasher flicks is worth watching, there will always be a place in horror for trashy films that can be enjoyed for their silliness and inconsistencies.