A Netflix movie by McG is a far scarier premise than the resulting tale of a teenager (Judah Lewis) whose babysitter (Samara Weaving) tries to kill him.
This 2017 effort inverts 2016’s Better Watch Out (where it was the kid trying to kill the babysitter) but forgets to switch our sympathies, keeping the babysitter as the likeable character and the boy an irritant. The young Lewis is eaten alive (almost literally) by the fantastic Weaving, whose 2019 vehicle Ready or Not is a masterclass in the too-often lazy horror/comedy genre.
Whoever decided funny horror movies needn’t be directed like horror movies needs to rewatch The Evil Dead, and whoever said references were a substitute for jokes should be punished for crimes against cinema and observational comedy. It’s not a spoof to simply repeat the same hack, sexist tropes while hiding behind a wink to the camera. If someone makes racist remarks but claims they’re doing it ironically, are they really self-aware or just full of shit?
The missing ingredient is humour, which McG thinks means a sneering, leering veneer that judges you for watching something so bad that he made. Brian Duffield (Underwater) has written one joke for The Babysitter (and in fairness prostitute and protestant are quite similar words), while McG (Terminator Salvation) attempts to ape Edgar Wright using video game-style pop-ups and emerges with all the dignity of a grown man going by the name McG.
Playing out like a gory Home Alone, The Babysitter packs a couple of fun kills into its mercifully brisk 85 minutes. But without any decent gags, original ideas or internal logic, it would ruin a sleepover faster than a human sacrifice (maybe try Satanic Panic instead). If you were babysitting someone as annoying and smug as this film, you’d probably want to kill them too.