THE BABYSITTER: Highly-Stylized Horror Fun
The Babysitter is perfectly trashy popcorn entertainment, with a distinctive, highly-stylized vision and self-satirizing bite; a lesson in embracing genre conventions rather than falling victim to them.
Cotton candy colored hues and bold, garish set designs seem to meet us at every turn in Netflix’s The Babysitter, a terrific little teen-horror-comedy with a self-satirizing bite. The Babysitter indulges in genre conventions in the best way possible: by tackling them head-on and ridiculing common horror tropes, The Babysitter taps into a self-awareness that makes it sharper than most will probably give it credit for.
Directed by McG, The Babysitter’s cartoonish violence may not work for all, but it is a perfect vehicle for this director’s bold vision: executed with gusto, a number of exciting set pieces and kills are paced efficiently across the 85 minute feature-length, showcasing a director with the confidence and energy to provide a continually-exciting thrill ride. The intensity and horror is peppered with sharp humor and subversive wit, simply bursting with fun.
The Babysitter’s production department craft an exciting number of sets to be coated with blood, terrifically utilizing striking colors and production designs. The house the horror bloodies is ripped straight from the American Dream blueprints, which descends into a waking nightmare as the chaos escalates. Enhanced by Shane Hurlbut’s solid cinematography, ensuring these colors pop and tension is heightened with some remarkable imagery, The Babysitter is a visual treat containing strong work from all the behind-the-scenes talents.
Cotton candy colour hues
Brian Duffield’s script can be disorientating at times, but mainly as a consequence of its giddy, fast-paced energy. It too embraces horror mythology and traditions, sprinkling the narrative with horror familiarity: for example, our characters purposely evoke archetypal figures in the genre and the kills are creative and gaudy.
Alongside The Babysitters‘ all-out gore and consistent blood splashes, there is a surprising amount of poignancy. The central relationship between Bee and Cole is a wholly believable, layered one; coming-of-age elements run through the veins of this film almost as effectively as blood runs from veins. In a similarly impressive way to the much larger-scale It remake, Cole is a character you can actively root for and recognize.
Performed with relish by the whole ensemble, Samara Weaving leads the cast with a career-kickstarting performance. Playing everything with wink and nudge, she helms the hell-for-leather horror with confidence and conviction, balancing the delightful with the menacing perfectly. She’s a very striking, skilled performer and elicits an emotional response in the film’s particularly barmy ending.
If her performance here is anything to go by, she has a fruitful career ahead of her. Judah Lewis is charming and lovable, with a wide-eyed naivety that anchors the audience to him throughout. The supporting cast, consisting of Hana Mae Lee, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne and Andrew Bachelor, go to town with audacious, purposely-exaggerated performances perfectly suited to the film’s tone.
Parody or homage?
Maybe The Babysitter is too immature at times. While it is a pleasant surprising that satire is interlaced so prominently throughout, it can occasionally comes across as if it’s mocking the genre in a vicious way, rather than in a playful one. Some have taken particularly offence to its critical framing of the slasher genre.
Furthermore, the difficulty of creating something purposely trashy is that it crosses the line into complete parody: The Babysitter does cross that boundary on a couple of occasions, and it’s easy to see why people would dislike the film. As someone who loves and misses Fox’s Scream Queens every waking day though, it’s a solid, successful blend for me.
In Summary: The Babysitter
The Babysitter embraces its barminess, allowing audiences to do the same. It avoids taking itself too seriously, lapping up the violence and fun and imparting it on the audience with a knowing wink and a self-aware nudge. Because of some impressive performances, solid direction and bold decisions, it’s difficult not to have fun with Netflix’s latest creation. It’s perfectly trashy popcorn entertainment, with a distinctive, highly-stylized vision and self-satirizing bite; a lesson in embracing genre conventions rather than falling victim to them.
Would recommend triple-billing with Better Watch Out and Happy Death Day. Maybe skip this trailer though, to keep the element of surprise in tact…
Do you think The Babysitter was a proud homage to the slasher genre or a vicious parody of it?
The Babysitter is available to stream on Netflix now.
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