Sundance 2013: “Hell Baby” – Review by MovieManMenzel

Can this really be? Is there finally a horror comedy parody movie that actually made me laugh?

When I think Sundance, I think controversial films about touchy issues, heavy hitting dramas, or even films that are loaded with sex that for some reason warrant the large amount of nudity. What I don’t think of when I think Sundance is a horror comedy directed by Thomas Lennon that stars Leslie Bibb and Rob Corddry in the lead roles. I wasn’t opposed to seeing a horror comedy, but was just kind of shocked to see one playing so I decided to take a chance and go see it. What I got was something that I didn’t quite expect.

Jack (Rob Corddry) and Vanessa (Leslie Bibb) are a happily married couple that are about to give birth to their first child. The couple decides to buy a house that even though it is in the sketchy neighborhood, they can’t turn it down for the great price. Jack and Vanessa slowly move into the house but soon learn that the reason why the house was so cheap was due to multiple murders that took place in the house. The couple decides to stay anyway with the great hopes that everything will be fine. It doesn’t take long, however, before weird events start taking place causing Jack to think something may have taken over his wife’s body. A horror comedy ensues…

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have one hell of a time while watching Hell Baby. Sure, this is not the typical film that you would find at a artsy festival such as Sundance, but I do have to admit it is a damn good time and I had some great laughs along the way. The main laughs in this film come from the next store neighbor Frenal played by Keegan Michael Key. He is often the most hilarious character and part of the film since he normally just pops up out of nowhere and delivers both some cheesy scares as well as a whole lot of laughs. Frenal is one of those guys who is always smiling yet always seems to be the barer of bad news. He is the one who tells Jack and Vanessa about the house and actually even questions why some nice white people like yourselves would move into such a bad neighborhood. The joke only gets funnier as we learn that Frenal lives in the crawlspace of their house and always seems to walk in on Jack at some awkward time.

Rob Corddry and Leslie Bibb are a great pairing in this film and they each have some pretty funny moments in the film. There are so many scenes within this film that are just so stupid that you can’t help but laugh including a scene where Jack and Vanessa go to a shrink as well as a scene with Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer as police officers eating at a local watering hole. The weakest element of the film in terms of casting was surprisingly Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, who to me just weren’t that funny. The duo who, wrote and directed the film, were priests that were sent from the Vatican to fight the devil that is trying to take over Vanessa’s body. I don’t know if the fact that it was so cliched that it wasn’t funny or if the two actors just had too much on their plate already with writing and directing the film. They just seemed to bring the film down a notch and I couldn’t wait for them to get off the screen.

The surprising thing about Hell Baby is that it spoofs the horror genre as a whole and not just one film. I liked that about the film and I enjoyed how ridiculous and over the top it was. There were a few moments in the film that I found myself laughing and asked myself “why the hell is that funny?” The reason is simply its so stupid that you can’t help but laugh at the film. I think this was the hardest I laughed at a horror comedy since Zombieland, and while I won’t say Hell Baby is on the same level that Zombieland is, I will 100% admit that it was a whole hell of a lot funnier and more creative than any spoof movie to come out in the past 15 or so years. The film isn’t a masterpiece and has a lot of flaws but for a horror comedy its simply a ton of fun with a whole lot of laughs to be had.

At the end of the day, while Hell Baby will never be on my “Film Festival Must See List,” it was definitely a fun film to see at the festival and added a nice variety to the films that I normally see at festivals. I laughed a whole hell of a lot especially when it came towards the end when the “Hell Baby” took stage. It was definitely an enjoyable fluff film that was a perfect no-brainer midnight film. Is is a genius work of art? No, but at least Thomas Lennon made a fairly hilarious movie and even apologized to us as an audience for being in such shitty movies over the years. You don’t see that every day when an actor actually apologizes for being in crap plus he’s a real energetic, funny, and nice guy. I really wouldn’t mind sitting down with him over a few drinks and shoot the shit. Honestly, if you take this film for what it is, I think you will enjoy it, just don’t go expecting anything groundbreaking and you will enjoy the ride.

MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Hell Baby is a 7 out of 10.

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