If you were to cast an eye over the directorial career of McG, a pattern starts to emerge of a blockbuster director who really had no business directing blockbusters in the first place. That may be a fairly cruel way to start a review and I assure you it’s nothing personal; but when you stack up the first two Charlie’s Angels movies (you know, the ones that no one talks about anymore), Terminator: Salvation (which I’m actually quite fond of) and This Means War, you get the distinct impression that this director has often been a square peg in a round hole.
Then along came Nexflix which, in it’s endless and ravenous search for new content, commissioned new shows and films with seemingly reckless abandon which neatly leads us to possibly the most fun movie on McG’s filmography by far.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to call in The Babysitter.
Cole is a constantly bullied twelve year old who is too timid to do anything about it and despite having well-meaning, but ultimately ineffectual parents, his anxiety precludes him from being “more adult”. Cole even still has a babysitter, which would be a glaring sign of terminal uncoolness if it wasn’t for the fact that the jean shorts wearing Bee is the hottest, coolest babysitter who ever lived and who also boasts an encyclopedia-style knowledge of geek culture to go with those endless legs. When Cole’s parents head out of town to reassess their marriage (even their hand jobs have lost all meaning), Cole and Bee have one of their usual, fun get-togethers, but when Cole decides to finally find out what she gets up to after he goes to bed he finds out something that’s going to send his anxiety through the fucking roof!
Of the five friends Bee has invited over, four (jock, cheerleader, weirdo and, er… black guy) are fellow satanists which leaves the final guy (typical nerd) as their sacrifice whom Bee dispatches with two gigantic knives to the skull. With that done, all they need now is the blood of the innocent, which unfortunately means Cole is next in line. Thus begins a battle of wits, which turns out to be both a curse (Bee is as razor sharp as her knives) and a blessing (her cult are a bunch of self obsessed idiots) that spreads in, under and around the house and results in some truly spectacular deaths for some visiting police officers and the cultists, but can the usually timid Cole possibly stop his babysitter who literally knows everything about him and can read him as quickly as a one-sided pamphlet?
Anyone selecting The Babysitter from the Nexflix menu expecting a nuanced thriller definitely needs to look elsewhere because McG’s candy-coloured yuk-fest is as fucking stupid as they come. Far-fetched, ludicrous and utterly obsessed by playing up to the lowest common denominator for cheap thrills (a shot of two hot girls kissing is seemingly endless), there is not a single character outside of Bee, Cole and his high school crush, Melanie, who isn’t a massively exaggerated comedic grotesquerie whom the filmmakers have allowed to ad-lib like their lives depended on it. Even the minor roles are massively overblown with everyone throwing wisecracks and counter-wisecracks with reckless abandon like someone on set was keeping score for a competition or something.
Thankfully, the dangerous levels of goofiness more than compensate for this and as a result, The Babysitter plays vaguely like John Walters has loosely remade Home Alone while secretly pumping nitrous oxide onto the set the entire time.
While totally throwaway, The Babysitter is actually an energetic source of Chuck Jones-style of hyperactive fun and contains more than it’s fair share of impressively bloody slapstick that’s pretty much guaranteed to get a hearty roar from uncynical gorehounds as the blood sprays around the place like a scarlet firehose.
As everyone seems to be having a whale of a time fucking about, it’s left to the cast iron charisma of Samara Weaving to hold things together who takes her character who (let’s face it) is pure and unashamed wish fulfilment – and yet she totally owns it. Also putting in the work is Judah Lewis, who turns the twelve year old straight-man role of Cole into a character you legitimately want nicer things to happen to.
Making up the rest of Bee’s cult are a gaggle of painfully attractive actor who are the living embodiment of faces that make you go instantly to IMDB to find out where the fuck you’ve seen them before. Robbie Amell is the psychotic, buff and noticably shirt resistant Max; Bella Thorne is the stunningly vapid Allison, a girl, who after being shot in the boob is more worried about how unattractive it might make her over the fact that she’s been shot; Hana Mae Lee as Soyna does the same weird-girl shit she’s known for in the Pitch Perfect films; and Andrew Bachelor as the motor-mouthed John is prone to spectacularly catching huge gouts of blood to the face – all do their roles proud and all have magnificent, cheer-worthy deaths.
Defiantly a logic free zone and all the better for it, The Babysitter is that rare Netflix release that doesn’t carry the whiff of mediocrity about it and it’s willingness to go all out on the crazy has given McG somewhat of a career resurgence with the sequel, Killer Queen and kids vs aliens flick Rim Of The World both featuring prominently on the monolithic streaming service.
It’s not big, it’s not clever and it only lingers in the brain for as long as it takes a sugar rush to wear off, but if you’re searching for orginal movies to stream, then there’s worse things to hire than The Babysitter.