Looking for a Halloween movie this weekend? Try The Babysitter on Netflix

Review by C.J. Bunce

Not a lot of new movies strike the right balance between horror and comedy, but if you’re looking for a solid Halloween movie to watch with your spouse and older kids, The Babysitter is a good pick, and if you subscribe to Netflix, you don’t need to fork out a rental fee.  Actually a Netflix produced release from only 2017, The Babysitter has a great cast of rising stars, it’s laugh-out-loud funny, and it doubles as a coming of age movie.  What it’s not, is a Clive Barker-esque slasher flick, or full of real-world slaughter and shocker scenarios like so many modern horror movies–it’s an easy fantasy to entertain you and the family for ninety minutes.

Directed by Joseph McGinty Nichol aka McG (Supernatural, Chuck, Terminator: Salvation, Charlie’s Angels), The Babysitter is a day in the life of pre-teen Cole, played by The Christmas Chronicles’ Judah Lewis (an absolute ringer for C. Thomas Howell in E.T. and The Outsiders), a kid who is probably too old to have a babysitter, but he doesn’t mind because she’s a much older and attractive teenage hottie,  played by Samara Weaving.  Weaving is fast becoming a big name in movies, after a string of horror roles including this summer’s Ready Or Not, last year’s series Picnic at Hanging Rock, and before that, Ash vs. Evil Dead (she’s also known for her role in the Oscar-winning Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and is soon to star in the Bill & Ted sequel and she’s playing Scarlett in Snake Eyes, the next G.I. Joe movie).  Weaving’s character Bee is a great friend to Cole–basically a big sister–who knows his friends are jealous of his relationship with a “hot” high schooler, but his real friend and love interest is the same-aged girl across the street, Melanie, played by young Emily Lind, a kid actor who has been making TV series (Medium, Revenge, Eastwick) and movies (Doctor Sleep, Replicas) for more than a decade.

One night while Bee is babysitting Cole, Melanie convinces him to stay up late and spy on what Bee and her friends are doing in the house after he falls asleep.  When Cole sneaks down to take a peek, he quickly learns that Bee and a group of teen friends (played by Robbie Amell (The X-Files, The Flash), Bella Thorne (Scream, Amityville: The Awakening), Andrew Bachelor (Angie Tribeca, The Mindy Project), and Hana Mae Lee (Pitch Perfect, Jem and the Holograms)) are conducting a ritual human sacrifice.

Cole’s doting parents are a hoot, played by Veronica Mars, iZombie, and Agent Carter regular Ken Marino and Iron Man, Tag, and Trick ‘r Treat’s Leslie Bibb.

McG really hones in on what makes a great coming of age film.  Cole is a likeable kid, bullied by his peers, but with a good support team (Melanie and Bee–sort of), and good parents.  He has the same problems any other 12-year-old might have, the same curiosity, and the same angst and stupidity.  But the stupidity of his peers–and the older kids–is worse.  Writer Brian Duffield (Insurgent, Jane Got a Gun) makes sure Cole gets a respectable character arc, a nice surprise in a teen horror-lite flick.

Sure, there’s blood and goo, but it’s so obviously the silly, fake Hollywood blood with Saturday Night Live-level blood spurts, that McG and Duffield keep their film right on track, always aiming for the next laugh.  It’s really close in tone to Ready Or Not, less slashery than Happy Death Day, with accidentally shot friends, a manhunt for Cole (Robbie Amell is perfect as the congenial quarterback who is so cool that he tries to help out Cole while he’s also trying to kill him), Rube Goldberg antics, and spiders in the crawl space.  About as PG-13 as the film gets is a single kissing scene, a couple knives in a skull (hey, they need his blood for the sacrifice), and some teens blown to bits.

It’s all good Halloween fun.  Give The Babysitter a try.  It’s streaming now on Netflix.

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