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The Babysitter is not a particularly great movie. Let’s get that out of the way right off the bat. Streaming on Netflix now, and just in time for Halloween, it is however probably destined for campy cult-film status. Going into this one I was not really sure what to expect from The Babysitter. Directed by McG and really known as “that horror film starring Bella Thorne“, I had some trepidation going in.
What I got was a interesting experience, that is for sure. It all starts off pretty easily. Cole (Judah Lewis) is a huge dork and a worrier. He gets picked on constantly, and he only has two friends: the girl across the street (Emily Alyn Lind) and his babysitter Bee. Samara Weaving actually does a phenomenal job in this. At least in the first half. When Cole’s parents go away for the weekend, he and Bee dance, swim, and talk about who would be their crew in a space adventure (BTW: Han Solo??? Come on guys). Everything seems normal until he gets out of bed to spy on Bee when she has friends over.
He witnesses Bee and four others ritualistically sacrifice someone so they can drink their blood and invoke a spell to get whatever they want in life. It is a pretty filmsy set-up that they never properly explain. Once they realize Cole saw everything, they try to take him out and one by one he starts offing them in hilariously accidental ways.
And weirdly once the plot actually takes off, that is where the film loses me. Cole and Bee are engaging and we want to spend more time with the two of them. I would have happily watched a different film that was nothing more than a coming of age film about their relationship and her just being his babysitter. But as soon as the action starts, Bee kind of moves to the background and they cease sharing the screen until the climax of the film. Big mistake there.
The other four members of Bee’s “cult” are largely forgettable. Bella Thorne is an annoying, one-note character. Andrew Bachelor has some funny one-liners, but ultimately doesn’t have enough screen time to make a large impression. Hana Mae Lee also seems intriguing, but like Bachelor’s John isn’t around long enough to get us invested. The only member of the crew that gets an arc of any kind is Max, played with gusto by Robbie Amell. The scenes where he is trying to kill Cole but also give him life lessons are fantastic. You can just see how much Amell is relishing being a bad guy.
By the end, we get a haphazard explanation as to why Bee is doing all of this and nothing is really adequately fleshed out or explained. Which is a shame. The set-up is interesting, but never goes anywhere. The end feels rushed somehow. I also have not seen a film so stylized since Scott Pilgrim. Text appearing on screen, manic cuts and so many one-liners that will only serve to date the film later. McG has always preferred style over substance and it is no different here.
Overall, you can find worse ways to spend an evening in. Come for the first half and then laugh along at the ridiculousness of the rest. There are some genuine bright spots before it all collapses in on itself toward the end. Just please: do not give us the sequel teased at the end. One babysitter is more than enough.