It’s been 27 years since Kevin McCallister defended his home from bandits in the holiday comedy classic Home Alone. No amount of paint cans, Christmas ornaments, or tarantula spiders, however, can mask the fact that Harry and Marv were just that… bandits. Dense, foolish bandits. In The Babysitter, which follows 12-year-old Cole on a particularly perilous evening while his parents are away, our young protagonist isn’t so lucky. Unlike Kevin, Cole must fight for survival against, not two, but FIVE members of a cult who aim to sacrifice his innocent blood to Satan. Yikes.
Directed by McG, who has arguably never made a good film, The Babysitter is a surprisingly fun and diverting horror comedy- albeit an imperfect one. The first twenty-five minutes of the film, despite featuring sweet moments and silly Ken Marino humor, are familiar and slow. Fortunately this aspect of the film is somewhat redeemed by the callbacks later in the movie. In addition to the slow first act, McG’s flick, though it features the typical life lessons you’d expect from a coming-of-age film, can only be taken at face value. You’ll take nothing of substance away from this movie, which would certainly prove detrimental if the final two acts weren’t so damn fun.
Judah Lewis, who stars as Cole, is soon to be a star. Rarely have we seen a kid gifted with such impeccable comedic timing and delivery while also showcasing incredible dramatic chops. Many viewers, especially those who were outsiders in their youth, will find pieces of their younger selves in Cole, and Lewis never once falters under that weight. The tone of the film never truly allows us to feel like Cole is in danger, but you won’t want anything bad to happen to this kid anyway.
Samara Weaving, who plays Bee, Cole’s babysitter, will likely be a household name in the coming years as well. The actress has already cut a nice little path for herself, starring in Ash vs Evil Dead and Mayhem, and she continues to shine here. Viewers will feel the same loving adoration for Bee as Cole does, and Weaving brilliantly ventures into the sadistic side of the character without sacrificing what makes her human. Together, the chemistry between Weaving and Lewis registers off the charts, and their relationship lifts the dramatic portions of the movie to unexpected heights.
The performances of Andrew B. Bachelor (commonly known as King Bach) and Robbie Amell are worth noting as well. Bachelor, an internet personality and comedian, essentially serves as the comedic relief during the bloodiest moment of the film. While the character is one-note, the actor pulls several belly laughs out of the material and transcends a thin character into someone memorable. Amell, who is best known for his roles in The Flash, is a vessel for a much more layered character. He’s obviously having a blast as a Patrick Bateman-like psychopath, but the caring, human side that Amell successfully bring to the character allows him to be shockingly likable. You certainly won’t be rooting for him, but you may find yourself wanting to hang out with the guy (in a public setting where you can’t easily be brutally murdered).
The Babysitter isn’t groundbreaking, nor is it especially great- but damn if it isn’t entertaining. Genre fans who crave a hearty laugh or twelve to go along with their buckets of blood will be immensely satisfied with what the film has to offer, as will casual viewers who prefer their horror light in tone. The performances are fun, the laughs are genuine, and the heart is pure.
The Babysitter is now streaming on Netflix.