Halloween double feature: The Babysitter and Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil

Hey remember McG? He directed both of the Charlie's Angels movies, the least-loved Terminator film, and then sort of fell off the directoral map. He's been doing smaller stuff lately, but his newest medium-sized thing was the direct-to-Netflix film The Babysitter. The film is a action-comedy with gore similar in spirit to Re-Animator (except no dead bodies) and while the poster is ripping off the Cary Elwes 90s movie The Crush I think is McG trying really really hard to rip off make something in the style and tone of Zombieland (except, again, no dead bodies).

Cole Johnson (Judah Lewis) is entering the rough and tumble teenaged world. He still hasn't started thinking sexually about his female best friend and bullies tease him because his "balls haven't dropped". He's a geeky guy not interested in sports and is scared and nervous about almost everything, from flu shots to heights. He can't understand his daredevil Mom (Leslie Bibb, just happy to be in something since The Zookeeper who gets surrounded by the world's largest spiders without flinching, and is too scared to even drive in an empty parking lot with his Dad. He's the classic introvert, uncomfortable with almost everyone except his best friend and his eponymous babysitter "Bee".

Bee is played by Hugh Weaving's niece Samara, who you may recall was involved in that thing last year where she was horrified to be mistaken to be a Trump supporter. Well it turns out "being mistaken for good when she's really evil" is a thing for her. When we first meet Bee she saves Cole from the aforementioned bullies (who taunt Cole with the same jokes Mike at RedLetterMedia used in the Alienator episode: "cole slaw", "cole lesonscopy") and then tries to help Cole be stronger and stand up to those who wish to do him harm. She's clearly been his babysitter for years, back when he was the age where he should have babysitters, and she and him have a special bond that is just starting to crack as he starts thinking about her breasts. When Cole's parents go away for a marriage-saving weekend at the Hyatt, Bee shows up to have dance parties and re-create scenes from Billy Jack, which is not the sort of movie you'd think a nerdy boy would take a shining to. After touching moments between the two of them where Bee again tries to build Cole up into a better man, Cole goes to bed for the night...but decides to stay up and see what Bee does when he's asleep.

What she ends up doing is having a ragtag group of friends over, including the nerdy Stuart who at first we are led to believe is dating Bee but quickly is revealed to be the new guy. He really comes across as a future Cole, drawing a spying Cole into thinking he and his gorgeous babysitter might one day be an item. She engages in a sexy spin the bottle game where she kisses all the boys (and girls), and an excited Cole thinks this is the greatest thing ever...until during a makeout session ends with Bee pulling two knives out of an outfit that couldn't possibly hold two knives and stabbing Stuart in the head. The friends pull up with cups and start harvesting his blood as Bee pulls out a satanic book and makes plans to harvest the innocent boy (who doesn't even know the difference between a prostitute and a Protestant) sleeping upstairs.

Cole tricks the gang into thinking he's still asleep (Bee tried to drug him earlier) as they harvest his blood for another part of the ceremony, but the shock of the needle (he couldn't handle one earlier) and the rush of trying to escape out his window causes him to pass out, and he finds himself tied up by the Satanic cult. They need his blood for a ceremony and Cole tries to use a pocket knife to cut the ropes (just like Drew Barrymore in the first Charlie's Angels film), but both plans are foiled by the cops. The cult manage to kill both cops but during the scuffle sexy cheerleader Allison (Bella Thorne)) gets shot and then the black guy (Andrew Bachelor) dies trying to get Cole from his room upstairs. Cole overcomes his fear of spiders to climb into the basement and outwit Sonya (Hana Mae Lee) with a model rocket in a scene partially ripped right from The Gate. He then gets caught by Max (Robbie Amell) who is interested in killing Cole (and cops, and everybody) but like Bee respects Cole enough to want him to grow as a young man, and tries to get Cole to stand up to the bullies who randomly decided to egg his house. After Cole's failure standing up to the bully he ironically/temporarily overcomes Max thanks to specific fight tricks taught to him by Bee earlier in the film. Ultimately the bully's eggs are what is Max's downfall, and soon it's just Cole vs. Bee (after a brief interlude with a not-dead Allison). Cole burns the satanic book, and while Bee is trying to put the fire out Cole steal's a car from his best friend Melanie's dad and drives it into the house (using the roof of his half-dismantled treehouse as a ramp...symbolism!) crushing Bee. The two of them have a final touching moment before Cole walks about to the admiration of the bullies and his growth into a young man who has overcome his fears.

There's a lot to like about this movie. Lewis is pretty good as a kid actor and while Emily Alyn Lind is way too hot for him as his next-door neighbour and future-girlfriend it's not that much worse than Toby Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. Samara Weaving does good as both good-and-evil Bee although too often they seem to be two different characters (more on that below). The cult members are all cardboard cutouts played by sub-par actors, but that's just par for the course for an action-comedy with heavy gore elements. The world is a bit of a cartoon universe with comically large spiders and bullets that don't act in any way related to Newton's Third Law of Motion. The real problem with the movie, bizarrely enough considering how important they are to this movie actually working, is the character of Cole and Bee's relationship to him.

Cole is a nervous nelly scared of everything, until you put a giant knife in his hand and ask him to jab it into a model racecar that would require small and precision instruments. He's too young and innocent as 12/13 year old to know what an orgy is despite looking it up on Google, but give him a couple hours with the "Mad Men" Wikipedia page and he's an expert in the themes behind the film. He can't handle scary movies (or "Mad Men") but has watched The Godfather Part II. Shit hits the fan and suddenly he has overcome almost all of his fears instantaneously. I understand they need to play up the "innocent" angle but I was hoping that would play into the film more: as Cole becomes more hardened he stops being the innocent boy with the magic blood Bee needs for her ceremony. Meanwhile he and Bee clearly have a major rapport built up over years. Despite the fact that they dance together, lay almost touching, and frolic in the pool while Bee wears a bikini he occasionally is now thinking about her sexually but that doesn't impact any of their other interactions, including when he taunts her about dicks and when she talks about how he's going to be a ladykiller as he stares at her longingly. Bee is also playing a very very long game where she's just getting close to him for the satanic ritual, right? So why did she spend years getting close to him for her plan to finally come to fruition? You might think she needed more people in the satanic cult but it's clear that they are just tagging along with her (and so we have cast members brutally killed on-screen), so she could have made this move anytime. She presumably has always had access to the book. Before the violent attack on Stuart entirely for the audience's benefit everything we see from Bee screams total sincerity. She could have still exercised her plan without building Cole up and making him cry with their tenderness together. So we're left to imply between those scenes and the touching moment between them at the end that Bee really does really like Cole and really did bond with him. But except for a 2-second glance after taking his blood she doesn't seem to have any of those feelings after we the audience discover she's evil. It almost seems as if kissing Allison turned the good Bee we'd seen into an Evil Bee until the evil was driven out (no pun intended!) after she's hit by the car. Weaving plays the character as two completely different people with basically no bleeding between them. It almost seems like the typical possession scenario: Evil Bee has learned all of the things about Cole she needs to implement her plot (his cop dreams, his lying tells), but because Good Bee didn't know about Evil Bee she was also giving Cole the tools he needed to eventually defeat Evil Bee and win the day. It could have worked had Bee just been a part of this cult being used by Max or Allison, and the killing of Stuart unleashed a demon that took over Bee. But instead Bee set it up the whole time: Cole wasn't the first time she did this either.

And that's the final part of the story that falls apart: does Satan's book work? Bee tells the others that once they perform the ritual they would get "everything they ever wanted". She tells Cole that she was once weak like him and wanted to be strong, and used the book on previous victim(s?) in order to gain the confidence we see from her throughout the film. But was it all in her head? What are the limits of the book's power? After Allison was shot Bee and the gang basically made it seem like she was a lost cause and wasn't going to be taken care of...Allison presumably wanted something related to her journalism out of the book, but couldn't she change that to be "I want the bullet removed from my boob"? We never see any power from the book, so it's never clear what the gang's plan actually is. If you want me to join your cult where I murder two people including a young boy and we do it in his suburban house then the book better have some supernatural powers to make the giant risk worth it. Since we never see any effects of the book, we're left unsure why these people are so gung-ho. We're also unsure why they can't kill Cole at the beginning but once he escapes they all want to murder him rather than retrieve him.

Sure this all takes place in a fantasy world where nobody notices a hot blonde dragging two cops into their cars with the sirens blaring, or where "10 and 2" graphics illuminate onto steering wheels (did I mention this was stylistically aping off Zombieland or Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World?), but we still need a bit of an understanding of how the world works. I assume the book does something supernatural, that's how Bee was able to escape the car in order to attack the cops in a mid-credit sequence that won't help her plan at all. McG brings a few of his typical visual styles into the film: he loves cars smashing into buildings and girls in jean shorts sitting on chairs. This all helps the film does maintain a bit of a sense of fun, and actually made me really think about the second film in the Halloween double feature.

Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil is like Deliverance only backwards. A group of "college kids" head out to the backwoods of the Virginian Appalachian Mountains where they have a bunch of scary encounters with a pair of hillbillies. Only it turns out the hillbillies are the heroes, at least by the end. Tucker (Alan Tudyk) has bought himself a "vacation home", a run-down cabin in the woods that was clearly the former home of a local serial killer. He brung his best friend Dale (Tyler Labine) out with him to help him fix the place up and make it a paradise. Along the way of course many nights of fishing and cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon would be enjoyed. They stop for supplies at the same store as the college kids, where Dale takes a shine to sexy blonde Allison (Katrina Bowden, much hotter and more girl-next-door than the Allison in The Babysitter) but his clumsy attempt to talk to her (carrying a scythe!) just creeps her out. She is rescued by Chad (Jesse Moss) and with Dale repelled the now creeped out college kids take off on their own wooded vacation. Tucker and Dale are in awe: though the cabin is really run down and needs a lot of work to even meet 1960 health and safety standards, for these rednecks it's a paradise. The college kids swap scary stories, and Chad tells the true story about the hillbilly serial killers who stayed in Tucker's cabin and how 20 years earlier they committed the "Memorial Day Massacre" against C&C Music Factory listening 90s college kids. The kids are so creeped out by the story they go skinny dipping for so long that it turns to night while Chad clumsily comes onto Allison.

Out at the lake Allison climbs onto a tall rock to join her "skinny dipping" (still wearing clothes) friends. She strips to her bra and panties but before she can strip down she catches Tucker and Dale leering at her in their fishing boat. She clumsily falls into the water and doesn't come back up, forcing Dale to dive in and rescue her. Unfortunately her friends misinterpret what it means when an unconscious Allison is slumped over Tucker's fishing boat and they run from the killer hillbillies, perplexing Tucker and Dale to no end. Chad gets an evil glean in his eye when told of the "capture", and the next morning Allison wakes up in bed with an earnest Dale trying to give her pancakes and misinterpreting her screams in fear as a dislike of pancakes. That alone almost made me shut off the movie. Who dislikes pancakes? But eventually Allison and Dale speak like normal people and even play board games while one of the college kids drives off to get the cops. Tucker doesn't get to play with the pretty college girl though, he has some wood to cut. Unfortunately his chainsaw cut into a wasp nest and Tucker is soon running through the woods waiving his chainsaw around trying to escape the bees. At the same time the college kids are approaching the cabin and they misinterpret (there's that word again!) Tucker's mad chainsaw run with an attack, and they flee. One of the college kids is too busy looking at Tucker to look where he's going, and he impales himself to death on a sharp stick of wood. This causes yet another hilarious misunderstanding as both groups think the death was deliberate but the other side was the culprit. Talking about his board game victory over Allison as if he physically assaulted her within earshot of the paranoid college kids wasn't Dale's best idea. Leaving creepy "we've got ur friend" messages in the woods wasn't his best idea either.

The gang decides to attack the cabin after seeing Allison help Dale built a hole for the outhouse (or Dale "making her dig her own grave" as the college kids misunderstand it), but their timing could have been better. One of them attacked Tucker while he was using his woodchipper and accidentally jumped into it while making the world's worst leap at the hillbilly. Another charges at Dale with a stick but trips and falls on it himself. Dale accidentally knocks Allison out with a shovel when turning to look at the yelling kid, and the college kids run away in fear. Tucker and Dale suspect the kids are part of a suicide pact, and fear that Allison got cold feet and they are trying to murder her to fulfill the pact. The college kids debate their limited options (no cellphone, no vehicle), and Chad is talking about their chance to truly live and fight the hillbillies to the death. It didn't take him long to go off the deep end, threatening to kill his fellow students if they get in his way. Meanwhile the cops (well, cop...singular) have arrived to confront Tucker and Dale while they are busy cleaning up the dead bodies of the college kids dying all around them. He doesn't follow police procedures very well even when he suspects they are guilty of involuntary manslaughter at the least, agreeing to come inside to check Allison to make sure she's okay. Unfortunately he leans on a weak spot in the house's superstructure and a board full of nails kills him. He stumbles back to the police car where one the college kids seize the cop's gun but manages to shoot himself instead. Chad finally arrives and starts using the gun with some skill, attacking Tucker and Dale and taking Dale's dog hostage. Tucker tries to save the dog but gets captured by the college kids who cut off his fingers as a message to Dale. Allison wakes up and doesn't believe Dale's story...until she sees the fingers and the note from her now-violent friends. Dale finally finds Tucker who was left as bait to lure Dale into a trap which only works if Dale approaches from one angle and stands in a specific spot...and instead he stood 4 inches away from it.

Meanwhile Chad comes to rescue Allison and starts throwing gasoline around the cabin. He again starts coming onto Allison, but Tucker and Dale return. Allison decides to use her psychology training and negotiate a settlement. Chad reveals that his mother was one of the victims of the Memorial Day Massacre and that his father was killed, explaining the source of his aggression and hatred towards the two hillbillies. Allison thinks she's making progress until two of the college kids burst in attacking everybody with a weed wacker (including the other college kids, by mistake). In the ensuring struggle Chad starts the gasoline on fire and it ends up killing two of the college kids. Tucker/Dale/Allison escape the cabin in the nick of time but one of the college girls grabs Chad and he's trapped in the burning cabin. He survives but horribly burned and now completely psychotic, attacking them all with an axe. Dale drives the trio away in Tucker's truck but doesn't keep his eye on the road and crashes into a tree (smashing the last thing Tucker had). Waking up from the wreckage Tucker tells Dale that Chad ran off with Allison, and after the two of them have a heart to heart where Tucker explains to Dale he's stronger than he thinks, Dale and his dog run off into the night to save Allison and stop Chad.

They track Chad to a nearby abandoned sawmill, and Dale breaks into the storage room to equip himself to be the kiler hillbilly that Chad is picturing: random pieces of iron as body armor, a chainsaw, and a welding helmet that looks cool and was clearly designed by somebody who had no idea how welding helmets work since Dale would be totally blind. He and Chad have an epic battle with sparks flying as Allison is slowly moving towards the sawblade like she's James Bond captured by Goldfinger. Dale manages to free Allison and the two of them escape to the upstairs office where they discover newpaper clippings revealing that Chad's father wasn't killed by the hillbillies...his father was the killer who raped Chad's mother and killed the other college kids. Between that realization and Dale's timely attack using Chamomile Tea, Chad stumbled out of a window and falls to his presumed death. Allison and Dale kiss and go on a date together while Tucker gets his fingers reattached (well, one was a college girl's fingers but close enough). The movie ends how it began, with an intrepid reporter investigating the sawmill only to be killed by Chad.

This movie was a lot of fun. As I said, it has a similar tone to The Babysitter but with more moments of comedy and less touching coming of age moments...though Dale's arc was more interesting and satisfying. This is probably because of the acting. Lewis and Weaving can't compare to the great performances by both Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine. Tucker and Dale are great characters who really come to life, and we enjoy watching their romp more because of it. Lighting wise this is the complete opposite of The Babysitter with a lot of dark lighting and constantly moving camerawork (which McG only used when Cole and Bee both nodded and the camera nodded along) that gives the movie a lot of its kinetic thrust. I'm not sure who would win in a sexy-off between Samara Weaving and Katrina Bowden, but I would totally watch that movie. Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil is the funner movie (and therefore the better one), and both have the same basic message: "don't be scared of the future, go out and seize what you want".

Both movies aren't horror movies per se. There are some horror shots popping up here and there but horror-comedy isn't really the style. Adventure-comedy with a few horror elements and a lot of gore (again, Zombieland), both are really good movies to have around when you want something Halloween-ish but you aren't interested in being scared out of your wits. You can be shocked and surprised, but most of the time during both films you'll be laughing and clapping along.


There's always next century

Well finally an ace comes through in the 2016 MLB postseason.

After last night's miracle win forced a Game 5 in the NLCS, the Chicago Cubs have been eliminated 11-1. Clayton Kershaw pitched a 1-run game over 6 innings and the Dodgers shutdown bullpen shut...the...Cubs...down...setting a new MLB record for postseason shutout innings by a bullpen.

I'm disappointed. I wrote last year how Chicago winning the World Series fundamentally changed the dynamic of cheering for this team and a not-entirely small part of me wanted to see the Game 7 collapse that almost happened. The Cubs were the lovable losers.

Now they come in as defending World Series Champions and while I sensed the whole time that the Cubs weren't the team of destiny they appeared to be last year, I was more hopeful of a win this year than last, bizarrely enough. After all, the Cubs followed up their 1907 World Series win with their 1908 World Series win...and then a century and change of heartache and disappointment. I was looking forward to a repeat of 1907/1908 frankly: two years in a row to make the fans think they have a dynasty, then the next few decades having those fans' children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren die having never watched a World Series win for their favourite team.

Now baseball is looking like it's going to get the New York-New YorkLos Angeles World Series, as the Yankees are flipping the script on the Astros.

But the Cubs aren't going to be in it. The Cubs aren't going down in history as the team that wins twice a row...every century or so. They remain a team in search of a new identity. I really think we had it.


Canada's Netflix™ Tax is 10%

Well that didn't take long.

It was only September 27th that Shiny Pony's evil government announced a special deal with Netflix to come up with crappy Canadian content. Why didn't they come up with special Canadian content before? Oh, right. Because nobody cared.

The Globe and Mail's extreme leftist reporter Daniel Leblanc actually put this line into the story.

The plan doesn't include new taxes on digital companies or Internet service providers, despite recurring calls in Canada's cultural industries for a "level-playing field" with foreign-based firms.
Oh, it goes on.
Instead, federal sources said the key element in the announcement will be the Netflix agreement that showcases Ottawa's ability to get foreign Internet companies to increase their investments in Canada. The deal is expected to facilitate the viewing of Canadian movies and TV series on the popular streaming service, but also include a production house in the country, the sources said.

In an interview, Ms. Joly declined to discuss any element of the deal before the official announcement. Still, she said her government is already reaping the benefits of holding direct negotiations with large Internet companies instead of imposing taxes or regulations on them.

"The reality is that the way to have the biggest impact, and the biggest impact for our cultural sector, is to have deals between the government and these companies. I'm convinced that this is the Canadian way," she said. "Because behind this deal-making approach, there is a vision to support our creative industries as a whole."

The reality, of course, is that Netflix Canada decided to spend $500 million that the market didn't support. Trudeau's evil government trumpeted this as their big achievement. [oh, they also spent another $25 million/year on the CanCon fund that makes art you don't care about... -ed]

So today Netflix informed its Canadian users that effective October 22 (possibly the date depends on the user's billing date) their monthly rate is going to $10.99/month.

Your monthly price is increasing to $10.99 on October 22. Our updated pricing is part of our commitment to improve Netflix, so you have even more of what you like to watch waiting for you. Thanks for being a loyal member.
That brings the cost up a full $1 from the previous $9.99, for a Netflix tax of 10%.

Hell, they have to pay for this unwanted content somehow. They're charging users more and that worthless asshole of a PM gets to pretend he didn't break yet another promise.