August 27, 2013

Hell Baby (2013)

"An expectant couple who moves into the most haunted house in New Orleans call upon the services of the Vatican's elite exorcism team to save them from a demonic baby. "

Yeah, I know I said I was going to take a break, but I saw that other people had been writing about this movie and decided to upset myself with another crappy one for my final "Torture Tuesday" until after October.

Although the cheap-looking opening slideshow of random American "houses" in various states of disrepair made me want to switch this off immediately, I stuck with it only to discover that it was a typical American comedy, i.e. full of moronic characters (who wouldn't survive in the real world without the aid of professional carers) doing and saying stupid things.

Thus, while the concept of parodying "Rosemary's Baby", "The Amityville Horror", and "The Exorcist" isn't necessarily a bad one, the execution leaves a lot to be desired, and of course, it's not the first time that any of those movies have been spoofed. There's nothing here that hasn't already been done in the "Scary Movie" series apart from a couple of un-politically correct lines.

In its favour, the awkward scenes between Rob Corddry and Keegan Michael Key are nicely done. Their style is a bit of a half-way house between "Airplane" and "The Office", and there's nothing to complain about if you're a fan of that kind of comedy. I prefer more slapstick and cruelty, so "Hell Baby" was just like watching a '90s-style teen-comedy full of tame running gags and puerile "gross out" humour to me. Having said that, I can't fault it for not being more obscene because it's an American comedy after all and can only be judged as such.

The actresses also do a good job being ditzy. It's a toss up between Leslie Bibb and Riki Lindhome for who steals the show as the hottest, but as the latter isn't padded-up to look pregnant and gets completely naked, I think she has the edge. Further eyecandy is provided in a flashback sequence of sexy Italian nurses played by Brittney Alger, Tara Cullen, and Jessica Loyacono.

I wasn't so enamoured by the priests and cops who are aren't skewered enough for their hypocrisy to really offend anyone. There's one jibe about Catholic priests being gay, but it's barely acknowledged, and it should have gone into much darker areas. The cops are simply idiots whose skits continue the "neurons not quite connecting" style. The only thing I got out of any of their interactions is that I now know what a "Po Boy" sandwich is, and I want one.

There's not much horror in this movie apart from a naked 90-year-old woman, one off-camera murder, four kills in total, and the fight scenes with the demonic baby. The production values are decent enough and the effects aren't too bad, but the finale borrows a lot from "Basket Case" (1982) and Cindy's battle with Mr. Kittles in "Scary Movie 2" (2001).

Given that I don't like horror-comedies anyway, I'm still objectively forced to rate this as below average rather than a complete waste of time. I can see how it would amuse some people, but too many punches are pulled and not enough is made of the horror elements for "Hell Baby" to be worth anything more than a curious rental.

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