Zombies are the middle children of the otherworldly family. Vampires are the oldest brother who gets to have a room in the attic, all tripped out with a disco ball and shag carpet. Werewolves are the youngest, the babies, always getting pinched and told they're cute. With all that attention stolen away from the middle child zombie, no wonder she shuffles off grumbling, "Marsha, Marsha, Marsha."

- Kevin James Breaux

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Film Review: HELL BABY (2013)

A long time has passed since Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon’s influential police spoof-comedy Reno 911! ended its run in 2009.  It hasn’t been long enough for the two to come up with any new ideas as can be seen in their latest film Hell Baby (2013) which is part spoof-comedy and part genuine gross-out horror-comedy that doesn’t mix either well.  Garant and Lennon both write and direct this film.

Jack and Vanessa (Rob Corddry and Leslie Bibb, respectfully) are an expecting couple who move in a predominantly African American neighborhood in the haunted house that everyone crosses the street to avoid except for, of course, their neighbor F’resnel  (Keegan-Michael Key) who more or less lives in the crawl spaces of the house.  It’s not even one night before Jack and Vanessa start to experience strange things in the house and Vanessa finds herself possessed and ready to give birth to a baby from Hell.  When Jack and Vanessa need help they contact Father Sebastian and Father Padrigo (Garant and Lennon, respectfully) who come in to try to save Vanessa and her unborn child before it is too late.

Corddry plays it straight whereas everyone else knows they’re in a spoof film as everything that can go wrong does…to Corddry that is.  This could actually have been a very funny movie in a Tom Hanks in The Money Pit kind of way if not for the extreme over reliance on gore FX and gross out humor that is repetitive and goes on for too long.  Both gross out humor and gore can be used to great effect (such as in Stand by Me and American Pie or Shaun of the Dead) but in this film it is over used to the point of being excessive and no longer funny which probably wouldn’t have been too bad but all the jokes fall flat or are just bad.  Whereas I loved this type of humor in the thirty minute episodes of Reno 911! it is ineffective here.

The always funny Key is wasted in this film as he has humorous “bits” are nothing on the same level as his own show Key & Peele.  One good thing about the film is the high production values and the art direction which are better than anything Garant and Thomas had on the Reno 911 show or even the movie version.  It’s just a shame that it was all wasted on this film.  The two seem like they want to do a straight up comedy-horror film but it ends up crashing under the weight of being a spoof film and fails completely in both.

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