Hell Baby
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Babies can be pretty funny. At times, they can be pretty scary, too. So, in Hell Baby, writer/directors Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant attempt to combine the two for a hellishly funny horror-comedy. But, as it turns out, this expectant thriller just doesn’t deliver.

Rob Corddry and Leslie Bibb star as Jack and Vanessa Watson, expectant parents who move into a rundown old house in New Orleans to prepare for the birth of their twins. As it turns out, though, the house has a history. Excessively friendly neighbor F’resnel (Keegan Michael Key) informs them that the house has a number of nicknames among the locals—all of which translate to something like “House of Blood.” But Jack and Vanessa are unfazed, eager to make this creepy old house a home for their new little family.

Of course, it isn’t long before strange things start happening to the Watsons—so a team of exorcists is brought in from the Vatican to help rid the home of its evil spirits.

I love a good horror-comedy. If a movie can make me laugh while making me jump or scream or hide my eyes at the same time, it’s an instant favorite—like Zombieland or Shaun of the Dead. Hell Baby, however, is not a good horror-comedy.

Really, you need to use the term “horror-comedy” loosely when describing this film. After all, it isn’t really scary. There are a few cheap scares—mostly involving F’resnel, who tends to show up at random times. There’s a little fake blood. There’s a guy dressed up to look like an ancient old lady. But none of the attempts at horror are particularly horrifying (or at least not in the way that they should be horrifying).

As if the film’s lack of scares weren’t bad enough, though, it’s also lacking in humor. While I’ve always thought that co-writer/director Thomas Lennon was a pretty funny guy, he falls painfully flat here. Most of the humor relies on visuals: on old Mrs. Nussbaum (Alex Berg), who’s apparently funny because she’s old and creepy-looking. Or on smoking, drinking, whoring priests. Or on projectile vomit. (And, as the mother of a toddler who recently had a stomach bug, I can tell you that projectile vomit isn’t the slightest bit funny.) The rest of the attempts at comedy, then, stick to the old clichés: things like drug references and awkward sexual humor.

The story, meanwhile, is random and generally nonsensical. It takes way too long to go anywhere—and when it finally starts heading in some kind of direction, it just isn’t all that interesting. Since it isn’t exciting enough to fill an entire hour and a half, the story is loaded with ridiculous filler—like the priests’ lengthy back story, as well as various montages of people eating po-boys. And, in the end, it just feels desperate—and embarrassing, too.

It’s clear that the makers of Hell Baby wanted it to be outrageously funny. In fact, they seem to be pretty sure that it is outrageously funny. And that’s part of what makes it so sad: they just don’t seem to realize how un-funny it is. Unless you’re a fan of the lowest of low-brow spoofs, don’t bother.

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