Hell Baby  (2013)

I was turned on to this movie simply by scrolling through my channel guide, and reading the various one-paragraph descriptions for each movie. It sounded like it would be a goofy fun little movie. Once I actually started watching and saw that it was written and directed by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, I got excited and my expectations went way up.

Garant and Lennon were two of the main characters on Reno 911, which really is a sort of acquired taste in comedy. That show relied on a form of "retro-scripting", where a basic outline for a scene was written, but then it was up to each actor to improvise their own lines back and forth, over many takes, to find what works. "Hell Baby" uses a cast full of tremendous comedians (Rob Corddry, Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel, Garant & Lennon) to create some great comic moments, even if the overall quality of the acting suffers.

Jack and Vanessa are a happily married couple, expecting twins, who move into a new house in a bad neighborhood in New Orleans. It's a cliche setup, with water-stained walls inside, cracked foundation outside, faded paint, overgrown weeds all around. A creepy but good-intending neighbor kicks the plot into gear, and the scares and shocks begin right away. Naked ghouls, ghost dogs, disembowelment, speaking in tongues, drinking blood, and many other horror tropes are covered. The entire movie is a knockoff of that genre, which makes it less of a regular "horror comedy" and more of a spoof.

This isn't really a "scary" movie, despite a number of startling moments. It counts on cheap scares, the quiet moments disrupted by a sudden scream combined with a visual shock. Rob Corddry does a good job at playing the kind of person who has seen enough scary movies and can't believe this is really happening. Leslie Bibb is also wonderfully cast as the possessed wife, because her face honestly scares me. She was reasonably hot in "Iron Man", but seems to have had some odd surgeries to make her face narrower and longer.

If you were a fan of "The State" or "Reno 911" or some of the other Garant/Lennon projects, you can expect to enjoy this. If that style of humor doesn't appeal to you, this won't really be worth your time.



On the [Celluloid  Hero] scale, "Hell Baby" gets a 6 out of 10.