Directed by Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant
“I assure you the devil is real…and he’s a dick!”
A week of long nights and cold weather brings us to our final entry from Sundance 2013, Darko Entertainment’s Hell Baby, the co-directorial debut from the creators of “Reno 911!”, Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant. This slapstick horror comedy throws together some well known comedian names for an enjoyable watching experience.
Pregnant (with twins) couple Jack (Corddry) and Vanessa (Bibb) make the important decision to move into a larger house to accommodate their growing family. On a limited budget, they decide to purchase a rather rundown Colonial home in a very bad part of New Orleans. Shortly after moving in, they are informed by a bizarre neighbor (Keegan Michael Key) that the house is cursed and has the nickname “Murder House” (sound familiar?). Soon after, Jack is certain his wife has become possessed and calls upon the help of two Catholic priests (Lennon and Garant) to help save his wife and unborn children from the grips of the Devil.
In between the big move and the grotesque finale are a ton of laughs. The story plays out like a gigantic collaboration of short comedy skits. Some of these moments are funnier than others, but all are played out very well. Some that must not go unmentioned would be food symphonies with people gorging themselves with Po’ Boys (12” roast beef and gravy subs); Keegan Michael Key popping out of nowhere in Jack and Vanessa’s house (most likely because he lives in the crawlspace) – usually just when they’re getting out of the shower; an evil 90-year-old woman constantly trying to perform fellatio on Jack; and lastly Jack has the luxury of having a very amusing “fresh out of the shower” scene with Vanessa’s sister (Riki Lindhome) that is just downright hilarious.
But Hell Baby is not all laughs, not by a longshot. There is some spectacular horror thrown in here and there that really tries to level the playing field against the constantly driven comedy. The overuse of some comedy may actually be the only real issue with the film, but that’s understandable given the overwhelming amount of comedians in the cast, who often seemed to be trying to outdo one another, no doubt due to the fair amount of improvisation used in the film.
So while it may need a slight trim here and there, Hell Baby is a welcome addition to the horror comedy sub-genre. While it would be nice to see it make it to a wide release, unfortunately it’s more likely to end up a limited theatrical/VOD feature. But give it a chance; I would certainly watch it again. If you enjoyed Tucker and Dale or have had the pleasure of seeing Grabbers, this might be right up your alley. Even if those were not your bag, if you like this cast, you should enjoy it as well.
3 1/2 out of 5