A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting

Movie review by
Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media
A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Fantasy violence, brave teens in book-based monster tale.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 98 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 17 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

It takes courage, brains, and teamwork to face danger. You must confront your fears to overcome them. Math and science are useful skills. Adults should listen to kids when they express their fears.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Teenage girls (and one boy) of different races work together to defeat monsters and save kids. Each teen brings her or his own unique skills to the secret society. Insecure Kelly gains confidence thanks to her friendship with the bold Liz and their heroic adventures together. Liz has a personal motive for her choice of the dangerous career of monster hunting. Jacob's mom, referred to by coworkers as the "Ice Queen," is overprotective and has long lists of restrictions for her son. Young Jacob bravely tries to outsmart the boogeyman and steps into a tank of creatures straight out of his nightmares to will them away.

Violence

Lots of fantasy violence and suspense, starting with young kids believing their toys are coming to life and monsters are emerging from their closets while they sleep. Turns out their nightmares are real, and boogeyman "The Grand Guignol" kidnaps Jacob to bring the scary creatures from his nightmares to life and "ruin the world." The Grand Guignol is creepy looking, with a pronged tail like a whip, limbs that stretch, cat eyes, yellowed teeth, and a scarred face, but his behavior wavers between menacing and goofy. He has kidnapped other kids too, with the help of monsters known as Toadies. He also has an ally in the witch Peggy Drood, whose army of cats is said to have eaten an entire Girl Scout troop. Liz and Kelly fight the monsters and the Grand Guignol on multiple occasions, getting hit and thrown around, caged, hypnotized, and threatened. At one point Liz uses a newborn baby as a decoy for the Toadies (the baby is fine). Killing the Guignol involves punching a potion into his heart. A tentacled "shadow monster" that turns things to ash chases Kelly around a house, prompting her to jump off a second-story balcony, landing safely on a sofa below.

Sex

Teens flirt with each other. Kelly has a crush on a boy from school who seems to be interested in her as well and eventually asks her out. Liz refers to him as "eye candy." Kelly's friend uses emojis to text that he's left the party with a hot girl. Liz says "basic" girls who "think they're hot" always wear cat costumes on Halloween. The babysitters accuse Curtis of trying to impress Kelly, calling him "Casanova."

Language

Kelly is called "Monster Girl" at school. Other teasing and insults include "twerp," "blithering idiot," "pathetic loser," and "sad, small, cruel, insignificant little heart."

Consumerism

Brown University, FaceTime, Instagram.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

At a Halloween party, teens drink punch out of red plastic cups. Alcohol isn't mentioned or suggested, although parents don't appear to be home.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that some of the characters, fantasy violence, and suspense in A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting are definitely meant to frighten. All of the action, based on the first book in author Joe Ballarini's series, takes place on a dark Halloween night. The monstrous Grand Guignol (Tom Felton) is made to look particularly creepy, with a pronged tail, elongated limbs, and scarred facial features. While his behavior wavers between menacing and somewhat goofy, he does threaten, hypnotize, and abduct a child with the goal of stealing the scary creatures of the boy's nightmares. The mostly female members of a secret society of teenage babysitters display courage and considerable knowledge to take on the Guignol, his monsters known as "Toadies," and a witch who lives in a gothic mansion with hundreds of lethal cats. The heroes put themselves and even a newborn baby in harm's way to fight the villains, including a tentacle "shadow monster" that turns things to ash and chases a girl around a house. Killing the Guignol involves punching a potion into his heart. The kidnapped boy shows impressive courage in confronting both the Guignol and his dream creatures. Some realistic teen scenes take place in high school -- where kids tease the insecure main character, calling her "monster girl" -- and at a high school party, where teens flirt with each other and drink punch out of red plastic cups. Other taunts include "twerp," "blithering idiot," "pathetic loser," and "sad, small, cruel, insignificant little heart."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymikehawkinaapplepie January 16, 2021

This scared me a lot

It was spooky and made me pass gas
Parent of a 6 and 11-year-old Written byAnother Dad October 16, 2020

Gets scarier

This was working well for our 6yo and 11yo until we got to the middle. Then a shadow monster showed up that was too scary for the 6yo — and when we checked in w... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bylizzy0620 October 15, 2020
I loved it! Great for Halloween and appropiate for family movie night. It focuses on nightmares, so maybe a little too scary for little kids, but still: REALLY... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byanite23i October 17, 2020

Being Brave

This movie teaches the kids to be brave and stand up to the monsters and also it shows how you can be brave.

What's the story?

Kelly Ferguson's high school peers call her "Monster Girl" because she has long held that a monster appeared out of her dreams as a child in A BABYSITTER'S GUIDE TO MONSTER HUNTING. One Halloween night when Kelly (Tamara Smart) is called on to babysit young Jacob (Ian Ho), she discovers that her childhood memory was actually real. Jacob is kidnapped by the same extravagant boogeyman that had appeared in her bedroom, known as "The Grand Guignol" (Tom Felton), and his monster minions, the "Toadies." As Kelly tries to figure out what to do, Liz Lerue (Oona Laurence) pulls up on a motorcycle and the two girls take off to hunt down the monsters and save Jacob. Liz is a member of a secret international society of babysitters who protect kids from monsters. Their rush to save Jacob before the Grand Guignol succeeds in stealing the creatures from the boy's nightmares and unleashing them on the world (and before Jacob's mom gets home), will take them into abandoned parks, underground lairs, cat-infested mansions, and even a high school party.

Is it any good?

A combination of Halloween-timed scares, teen angst, and girl power make this a fun watch for tweens. There's plenty in A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting for that target group. Smart and Laurence make a solid duo, and an early slow-motion scene of Kelly walking down a high school corridor manages in seconds to capture the loneliness and anxiety of an insecure teen. Harry Potter fans are likely to be drawn by Felton (aka Draco Malfoy) and may see echoes of Potter dementors in Jacob's nightmare creatures. Likewise, the shadow monster feels reminiscent of Stranger Things' demogorgons.

Felton is a little over-the-top in his Mick Jagger-inspired boogeyman. He's not meant to be a realistic character, but he's neither fully scary nor solely campy, and it's a mix that never quite gels. One funny sequence sees him desperately trying everything to get a child to sleep; parents and babysitters will relate. The filmmakers have done a good job of bringing the imagined world to life, infusing the secret babysitter society with historical references and international flair, and setting it all to a moody pop soundtrack. The action is limited to a single, dark night (Halloween), and the sets range from everyday houses to colorfully cartoonish lairs and darkly gothic mansions. Surely a franchise is in mind, considering the film is based on the first in a trilogy of books and ends with a detailed look at the Grand Guignol's sister, Serena the Spider Queen, who is still at large with a main character's kidnapped brother apparently in her web.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the power of nightmares. Have you ever had recurring nightmares or dreams that felt real? How did you cope with them?

  • Have you read the bookA Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting is based on? If so, how did it compare? If not, did the film inspire you to read the trilogy of books? Should film adaptations always follow the book closely? Why or why not?

  • The International Order of the Babysitters references a number of historical figures, like Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale, and Frida Kahlo, among others. What names did you recognize? What do you think these people have in common, if anything?

  • Did the monsters in this film remind you of creatures in any other movies you've watched? If so, which ones?

Movie details

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