Hola Dannie aqui!
Our Precious Roy sent in a review for the new Netflix film "The Babysitter"!
Precious Roy thinks he’s too old for The Babysitter, but likes it all the same!
The truth is, I like most films. Almost everything I see, I have criticism for, in some way or another, but if I hated films, I’d never be reviewing them here on AICN; what would be the point? The last three shows and films I saw (It: Chapter One, Blade Runner 2049, and The Big Sick) were all films I liked, even if I felt something was off in them, here or there. I can be picky, and in fandom, I expect a lot, post-LOTR, post-MCU.
So, the news is that I actually enjoyed The Babysitter, a direct-to-Netflix babysitting adventure from McG. If you are 12-18, this is a fun movie, and if you’re older, you might potentially enjoy it, too. (That is NOT faint praise; keep reading.)
The pre-spoiler synopsis is, it’s about having a crush on that unobtainable, unrequited crush, and coming of age, all in one night, whilst dealing with a serious Big Bad and all the little tyrannies of an unjust, cruel world.
When we meet Cole, he’s an average wimpy-kid protagonist (who to me looks a great deal like a young, male Hailee Steinfeld). He is casually bullied, at school and on the way home. His cool parents happen to be going through some marital blahs, take hotel excursions to break up the monotony of their suburban life. Unlike most kids of his age, Cole’s parents still hire a babysitter, knowing Cole lacks the confidence to handle being alone yet.
There are two women in Cole’s life: his impossibly-hot babysitter and protector, Bee, and his best friend and literally the girl-next-door, Melanie. Both bring out the best in him without judging him harshly for his dawning puberty, and he treats both as friends. It shouldn’t come as huge shock that Cole is in love with the older, sexy Bee. But his love isn’t a purely skin-deep thing… Cole loves her for the person he thinks she is. Bee treats him like her best friend— she’s an awesome babysitter and who goes out of her way to make him feel special to her.
Melanie suggests to Cole that Bee likely has a boyfriend over to have sex when he’s fast asleep. Cole decides to stay up and see if it’s true. Their night goes great, as they watch Billy Jack together, taking on the parts and reciting their lines, and the shorthand of their friendship is sweet and disarming.
Our first hint that something is off in this suburban scene is when Bee offers Cole a double shot of alcohol to go to bed. Cole, knowing he has no chance of drinking a shot successfully, dumps the drink in a plant when she leaves the room and fakes like he drank it when she returns. Later, he emerges from his room to find out what Bee gets up to while he’s sleeping. He discovers a group of strange teens down in the family lounge with Bee, playing a game of Truth or Dare.
But one of these strangers doesn’t seem the same as the others. Nerdy and awkward (and a likely representation of where Cole might end up), he is the last in a line of kisses Bee gives the circle of friends. As she kisses him, she brings two ceremonial daggers down into his skull, murdering the poor guy, and then the truth is revealed: these teens are into blood sacrifice, and Bee is their leader. When Cole overhears that they need the blood of an innocent, he runs up to his room, looking for a means of escape and survival, as the teens head up to draw his blood.
I don’t want to ruin any more of this film by recounting it. If you’ve seen the trailer, most of this is already pretty obvious. One thing you might miss is that this is a McG film, and this is the McGssburger at his very best, I think. If you are looking for Citizen Kane, that’s elsewhere. This is a specific style of film told in a very specific way. Some of the sequences, like the crawlspace one, can be a bit clunky, but others, like Cole warding off an attacker in the kitchen, are brilliant.
This isn’t life-changing film event, if you’re an adult. But it might be that film that you carry with you your whole life if you’re thirteen when it came out, the way I carried Valley Girl with me. Or it might conjure up your own memories of unrequited love, or finding out that someone you modeled perfection by was actually a bit wrong underneath their nice-person veneer. The Babysitter did that for me, and as much as I realized that it isn’t a film for me, I could appreciate the value this would have for a kid, or someone nostalgic for that time in their life.
I expected The Babysitter to be a much more sexist romp after seeing the trailer, but it shows a really surprising level of sensitivity and is thoughtful about how Cole reacts to signs of adult concerns, and how he treats women. Mind you, this is a sexist film, but it tries to stay neutral while selling itself on the trope of the hot babysitter up to no good. The cheerleader cultist is as vapid as the male jock cultists—an equal opportunity for offense.
The Babysitter speaks about love and sex on a level 13-year-old kids will understand and appreciate, but will not offend their parents— at least, I hope not. It flirts at sexuality, but in a way that middle school kids will get as opposed to teenager soft-core. (The entire film is seen through the eyes of someone who is thirteen— as exhibit A, see the tarantula infestation in Cole’s crawl space.)
The theme of Cole’s adventure is about facing down his fears and growing into a man, but not necessarily the examples of man he sees around him. Cole definitely does grow throughout this movie. But he retains his sensitivity and his innocence along the way.
My only other criticism is about the two women in Cole’s life; I wish they had explored this facet more. There should have been more pull in either direction, forcing him to either embrace his fantasy girl or engage with the girl-next-door. Whilst the resolution of Bee and Cole accomplishes this, it does so with an incredibly unnecessary explosion that basically feels like murder. Given all Cole’s been put through, it’s earned, of course, but you usually want these kinds of deaths to be precipitated by the villain’s final act of evil. I think an attempt to kill Melanie to complete Bee’s ritual would have done that and would have forced the issue of Cole’s choice better.
And there you have it. It’s on Netflix, so chances are you’re already paying for it, sucker. Might as well see it if the review makes you do inclined.
Precious Roy returning to my sock drawer until next time!
Thanks Precious Roy, I will have to check this flick out soon!
Stay Strong, Live Good, Love Movies
Dannie aka Pekosa Peligrosa