‘The Babysitter’ Review: McG and Netflix Deliver a Funny & Bloody Coming of Age Tale

“Do you know what happens when you kill someone? They lose all their Instagram followers.”

If 80s movies taught us anything — and the decade taught us many things — it’s that lusting after your hot babysitter could result in sneak peeks of T&A, inappropriate sexual behavior, and your dad being kicked out of the house. Cole (Judah Lewis) wasn’t around back then, but that hasn’t stopped him from crushing on his own babysitter, Bee (Samara Weaving). She’s beautiful, funny, and seems to appreciate a true nerd which is good news for Cole. He’s a smart kid and a nice one too, but he’s something of a wet blanket when it comes to standing up for himself or recognizing that the girl (Emily Alyn Lind) down the street is into him.

Cole’s parents (Leslie Bibb, Ken Marino) take a mini vacation and leave him behind in Bee’s care, and suspecting sexy times are afoot Cole stays awake past bedtime to steal a glance at what his dream girl is up to. He discovers she’s invited some friends over — including Bella Thorne (The DUFF), Robbie Amell (The DUFF), Hana Mae Lee (Pitch Perfect), and Andrew Bachelor (Meet the Blacks) — along with a geeky and nervous stranger. He watches as the group plays a game of Spin the Bottle meets Truth or Dare that leaves Bee tasked with kissing each of them, and after a series of hot and playful kisses she lands on the newcomer.

And then she stabs him in the head.

Who knew 2017 would turn out to be the year babysitter-related slasher movies made a comeback? Between the fantastic Better Watch Out (currently available on VOD) and the new Netflix original, The Babysitter, the sub-genre has gotten a much-needed and highly-appreciated kick in the pants with smart scripts, fun performances, and bloody mayhem.

McG‘s The Babysitter acknowledges that it’s predicated on a pre-teen boy’s fantasy of a hot, older babysitter, and to that end the film embraces style and atmosphere over reality. (I did mention it’s a new McG film right?) There isn’t a believable frame in the entire film — the killers don’t quite act like killers, the suburban neighborhood fails to notice screams and gun shots in the middle of the night — but if you can get on board with it all you’re in for an absolute blast of big laughs and bigger arterial blood sprays. While it falls under the “horror/comedy” banner the film leans most heavily towards the latter with the horror of it all relegated to bloodletting done with a smile.

Writer Brian Duffield shifts gears again after Insurgent and Jane Got a Gun with his witty, surprising, and very funny take on slashers, and he gives his characters smarts and genre awareness that lend a playful tone to the carnage. And I do mean carnage. McG fully embraces the bloodletting to the point of employing various wounds and injuries as laugh-earning gags. A strong, recognizable soundtrack and on-screen text — the early reveal that Bee’s a killer gets a dramatically parsed out “What The Fuck!” over Cole’s shocked expression — add to the stylized fun. The film is easily McG’s (Terminator Salvation) strongest and most fully realized, and while it’s something of a return to the comedic, barely-serious tone of his Charlie’s Angels franchise it succeeds far better.

Lewis holds his own as the kid trapped in this hormonal nightmare and manages to be smarter than his years without being obnoxious about it. The home invaders are equally endearing in their own way with Amell and Thorne poking terrific fun at “popular” character types they’ve each mastered over the years.

The Babysitter is ridiculous in the best possible ways without ever fully tipping over into spoof territory, but running beneath the big laughs and extreme violence are some worthwhile themes about growing up and taking responsibility. They never get in the way of the pure entertainment, but they add a sweetness early on and in the film’s third act that give the movie a little bit extra. Not every comedy lover can handle the blood, and not every horror fan likes jokes, but if horror/comedies are your jam you’re going to want to take a peek at The Babysitter as soon as possible.

The Babysitter premiers today on Netfllix.