Tag Archives: Ken Marino

The Babysitter: Killer Queen

Cole is a junior in high school who meets with his school nurse Big Carl to discuss his delusions. I mean, Cole (Judah Lewis) is adamant they’re not delusions: two years ago, a blood cult really DID try to kill him and if there’s no evidence to support that, well, it hardly means he’s crazy, right? Big Carl (Carl McDowell) disagrees. So does the student body, who know about his outlandish claims, and they’re not shy to label him. Even his parents (Leslie Bibb, Ken Marino) are about to kidnap him away to some school-hospital hybrid for psychotic teenagers. But Cole catches wind of this and so he absconds with his only friend Melanie (Emily Alyn Lind) and they hit up “the lake” for “some fun.” Melanie has a boyfriend (who’s coming), but she’s a girl and she’s been polite to him, so of course Cole thinks he might get to fuck her. But he’s wrong. Dead wrong.

As Cole should have guessed, the lake is code for murder town. I mean seriously, if you narrowly survive a blood cult, the LEAST you could do is start boning up on horror movies and, you know, get a clue. Lucky for him, the mysterious new girl who he only just met that morning, Phoebe (Jenna Ortega), is also at the lake to “have some alone time” despite the crowded beach party. A very inconsiderate second round of blood cult is about to go down, so they’ll get plenty of alone time to put his freshly purchased Magnum XL’s to good use while literally also running for their lives. Trust me, I know that math does not add up, but that’s called “movie magic” and the first rule of movie magic is you never fucking question it.

This horror film newly available on Netflix is a sequel to 2017’s apparent hit, The Babysitter, as astute readers will have guessed from my casual use of “two years ago” up in the first paragraph, which you can now appreciate for having been deeply meaningful. I never saw the first one and you won’t have to either because the sequel makes heavy use of flashbacks, but honestly, it’s also just pretty darn shallow. Blood, knife, run. You know the drill. It’s a classic teen slasher flick and by god there will be slashing. This movie is not big on actual horror, it’s not scary, it’s not even tense, but it is gory and rather graphic. It takes perverse pleasure in ripping bodies apart at the seams and showing every stringy inch of it.

I should mention here that the movie is directed by McG. Not that anyone else is fool enough to start calling himself McG, but yes, that McG, the McG who directed all those crazy annoying earworm 90s music videos you’re still having PTSD about: Smashmouth’s All Star AND Walking on the Sun, Offspring’s Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) and Why Don’t You Get A Job, Fastball’s The Way, Sugar Ray’s Fly, Barenaked Ladies’ One Week, and yes I could go on but I won’t because ew. But maybe just remember this is how he got his start, so that if, just for random example, this horror movie has a quick music video sidebar in the middle of it, you won’t be too surprised. He also directed Terminator Salvation, but don’t worry, you needn’t remember that because this movie references it HEAVILY.

We recently reviewed Get Duked!, an actually funny horror-comedy. This one isn’t a horror-comedy but it IS unintentionally funny. It doesn’t take itself seriously though, it embraces the absurd with open arms, it’s an odd kind of film and it knows it. For that reason alone, perhaps, I couldn’t hate it. I didn’t think it was good, but it was definitely having fun and I guess it rubbed off. Plus, if you liked the first, you’ll likely be pleased with the second. Are you in it for Robbie Amell’s random absence of a shirt? Done. Want to see if Bella Thorne finds a way to top her self-compliments? Go for it. This movie takes a lot of weird turns, plays a lot of unexpected tunes, and really keeps you guessing. Not in terms of plot or anything, you know how it’s going to end, you’ll just be pretty surprised at some of the pit stops they take in getting there.

If this sounds remotely interesting, it’s on Netflix so the risk is low. So’s the first one if you’re curious, but believe me, you can easily treat these as stand alone movies. Just don’t get attached to anyone. Or their heads.

The Sleepover

Kevin’s having a bad day. First his teacher, the humourless Mrs. W, busts him for fabricating his family history for an oral presentation (hint: pick something less obvious than best-selling novel The Martian), then he gets caught on camera by the school bully dancing his pants off in the boys’ washroom, and then he gets saved by his mommy/lunch lady in front of the whole cafeteria. Could his day get any worse?

Yes. Yes it can. While Kevin (Maxwell Simkins) and nerdy friend Lewis (Lucas Jaye) are having a sleepover in the backyard, and big sister Clancy (Sadie Stanley) and her friend Mim (Cree Cicchino) are trying to sneak out to a party, their parents Margot (Malin Akerman) and Ron (Ken Marino) are abducted by what witness Lewis can only describe as “ninjas.” But the fact that Margot has left them a series of clues hints at another sort of life, one her family knows nothing about, but these intrepid kids are going to follow them into the city and a whole heap of trouble, all in the name of rescuing their parents.

The Sleepover plays like a kid version of National Treasure or The Da Vinci Code; director Trish Sie serves up some decent action sequences, but the tone and the humour do much to dilute the sense of peril and remains appropriate for family viewing. Ken Marino offers up his particular brand of wimpy wit, but it’s the kids who hog the spotlight. Maxwell Simkins is an especially wonderful addition; his bathroom dance is so charming and well-executed it’s hard to believe he’s bullied for it rather than praised – especially in the age of Tiktok, where this kind of thing would likely turn him into an overnight sensation. Actually, it sort of does anyway: the video posted to tease him goes viral, which is sort of what gets them into this mess.

Casting the right kids is imperative for a movie like this, but The Sleepover gets it right. It’s way too easy for a movie like this to go sideways, falling prey to either inauthentic child performances or an overly trite script, but Sie and screenwriter Sarah Rothschild manage a delicate balance of broad humour and credible adventure in crafting a fun ride fit for the whole family.