Film Review: Netflix’s The Babysitter (USA, 2017) delights in being supremely distasteful

Beginning its streaming season on the rather appropriate date of Friday the 13th, Netflix’s nasty, bloodied The Babysitter proves a suitable entree for the feast that is the Halloween film season.

Playing with the conventions of an 80’s style slasher whilst simultaneously maintaining an air of modern self-referential wit, McG‘s splatter comedy is a quick fix for audiences craving a little blood with their popcorn.  If you’ve caught the film’s amusing, though spoiler-heavy, trailers then you’d be more than aware that all will not remain peaceful within the unsupervised walls of pre-teen Cole’s (Judah Lewis) genre-approved house when his parents (Leslie Bibb and Ken Marino) vacate for a weekend, leaving teen dream Bee (Samara Weaving) in charge.

With perfect white teeth, impossibly short shorts, and curls of honey gold hair, Weaving looks every part the high school fantasy she represents for the endearing Lewis as Cole, and as much as the latter half of the film focuses on her efforts to kill him (something about the blood of a pure innocent for human sacrifice), the earlier sequences involving their back-and-forth helps humanise them in a manner that gives the film surprising depth.

That’s not to say The Babysitter impresses with its gravitas and proves to be a film above resorting to blood and gore to elicit cheap thrills…no, McG, he of the cinematic Charlie’s Angels, is fully aware of what type of film The Babysitter wants to be, and once it introduces Bee’s coven of sorts, all hell breaks loose.  A perennially shirtless Robbie Amell, a wise-cracking Andrew Bachelor, a nasty Hana Mae Lee (best known as the soft-talking Lilly from the Pitch Perfect films), and a hilariously vapid Bella Thorne make up Weaving’s devoted posse, serving the film some amusing exchanges in the lead-up to the inevitable carnage.

As much as Bee intends to sacrifice young Cole through a ritual we assume helps her live her best life, she’s unprepared for his pluck and determination in, you know, not dying!  The murderous set-ups that ultimately take each fellow Bee follower out are suitably gory, and the film’s unapologetic nature in how nasty it gets only reiterates how much of a 1980’s slasher companion piece it truly is.

The Babysitter doesn’t break the rules we’ve come to abide in the genre, if anything it follows them to a tee, but it’s delight in being supremely distasteful earns the film a charm that’s sorely been missed.

Review Score: THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

The Babysitter is on Netflix worldwide from today.