Published on October 19th, 2017 | by Craig Silliphant0
McG is back! Wait, no one’s excited about that prospect. But he made The Babysitter for Netflix, a bit of a turd in the punchbowl.
The Black List is an annual list of the “most liked” movie screenplays that aren’t yet produced, based on a survey by studio and production company executives. It should be pointed out, that these don’t mean ‘the best’ screenplays, just the most well-liked, but they can often take on a mythical quality for being challenging works that no one will take a chance on. That’s sort of untrue, in that many of these scripts do ultimately end up produced. But it’s a fun idea.
One such script was The Babysitter, which was picked up by McG for production at Netflix. The Babysitter is the story of Cole, a 12-year-old boy who is afraid of everything, so much so, that he has to have a babysitter. His minder is Bee (get it? Bee – B – Babysitter?), a teenage girl that seems to leave a trail of tongue-tied men in her wake. Bee and Cole have a special relationship — she treats him like a person, where almost everyone else bullies him. One night while his parents are away, Cole sneaks out of bed to see what Bee does after he is tucked in, only to find that she and a group of friends are murdering a hapless nerd in a satanic ritual. Chaos ensues.
Let’s just get this out of the way first — I hate McG (I mean, what kind of name is McG, anyway?). He started out directing videos for 90s frosted tips super douche bands like Sugar Ray and Smash Mouth, before graduating to feature films with the Charlie’s Angels series. I can’t think of a more obnoxious, fratboy movie for dingalings (he was replaced for the sequel by Brett Ratner, who is slightly more credible, but falls into the same camp as McG in my brain). McG mistakes noise, colour, and flashing lights for style. Also, sexism.
He doesn’t bring much to The Babysitter. The best thing I can say about the movie is that it has a sort of goofy tone that is occasionally likeable — it’s not taking itself too seriously, which works in its favour. However, it also goes for the low hanging fruit of bro humour too much. With its out of touch, unironic fratboy sensibility, it was a weird movie to watch on the #metoo day, that found women online all over the world expressing their experiences with men and sexual harassment or assault.
One of the biggest elements of style in this movie was as stale as old Halloween candy. Periodically, a really annoying set of supers/titles that would pop up on the screen, recycled lazily from 90s movies (when they were fresh) from directors like Tarantino or Rodriguez. McG’s trying to get a Grindhouse vibe, but the rest of the show is shot like a bloodier version of The O.C. (which he also produced).
How will Bee explain the corpses and blood splattered all over everything (even before the evening spins out of her control)? Why does Robbie Amell let the kid go to face his bully right in the middle of trying to kill him? Why are the keys to the neighbour’s new awesome car in the car? Because shitty movie tropes, that’s why. Fair enough, that The Babysitter isn’t really the kind of movie where logic matters at all, but they really threw it out the window.
It’s not like this cartoon logic hasn’t work in other movies or TV shows, but The Babysitter just isn’t as clever or funny as it thinks it is. It’s like the jock at the party that thinks punching people in the dick is funny, but no one likes the guy. And while I appreciated the shorter run time, it struggles to fill an hour and 25 minutes convincingly.
Perhaps McG sold his soul to the devil to get where he is? Or, perhaps he didn’t, but he should have, and bartered for some talent in the deal.