You need to watch the most stylish cult thriller on Netflix ASAP
“Don’t you get it yet? I am the big bad.”
The only way to create a new take on the horror formula is to find a part of the envelope that hasn’t been pushed yet, then lean on it for all it’s worth. This 2017 Netflix film is a masterclass in innovating a premise that wouldn’t be amiss in a 1970s midnight movie lineup, making it feel fresh, new, and even funny.
The Babysitter is a Netflix Original film directed by Charlie’s Angels director (and one-time Sugar Ray frontman) McG. Though set in the modern day, the movie’s distinct ‘70s and ‘80s aesthetic pays homage to the slasher era.
The Babysitter opens with a moment that rings too true in 2021: protagonist Cole, a terrified and wimpy 12-year-old, being terrified at the prospect of getting a vaccination. The movie shows all the terrible parts of Cole’s life: the bullies who regularly egg his house, his parents who are both too cool to understand his neuroses, and a best friend he obviously has a crush on, but he’s too afraid to make a move.
There’s one bright spark in Cole’s life: Bee, his effortlessly cool, big-haired, daisy duke-wearing babysitter. They have a great time together. Cole doesn’t even care he still needs a babysitter at 12. But then, his best friend Melanie makes him wonder just what exactly Bee gets up to after he goes to bed.
So he decides to stay up.
What follows is a shocking turn of events involving many high school stereotypes, a devil-worshipping cult, a huge firework, and lots and lots of revenge.
Though the premise may feel a little old-fashioned, the presentation of the film incorporates on-screen text and imagery straight out of Scott Pilgrim. And the dialogue, though cliché, has a tongue firmly in its cheek.
When Allison, the pretty cheerleader played by ex-Disney star Bella Thorne, catches a stray bullet to the chest, she laments the fact she just wanted her dream job, but now all she has is an “ugly, deflated boob.” (By the way, her “dream job” is a journalist, which earned more than a little chuckle from me.)
What puts The Babysitter above all other revenge thrillers and, even beyond that, all other Netflix Originals, is how it takes itself seriously as a movie but not as a horror film. It’s not afraid to highlight the ridiculousness of what’s happening but will take every harebrained moment and convention as serious as a heart attack.
There’s nothing worse than a funny movie that highlights its humor. The Babysitter is a funny movie that highlights genuinely terrifying and touching moments, making the humor shine all the more.
The Babysitter is now streaming on Netflix.