Vulgar, lowbrow horror-comedy has extreme blood and gore.
What parents need to know
Positive role models
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hell Baby is a crude comedy with horror elements. It features quite a bit of comical blood and gore, with many characters dying, and adult characters trying to catch, beat up, and kill a newborn demon baby. Sex is a big issue, with full-frontal female nudity, very strong innuendo and suggestion, as well as scenes inside a strip club, and images of an adult magazine. Language is likewise strong, with multiple uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and more. Two adult characters smoke cigarettes almost constantly, many of the characters smoke pot and get high, and most of the characters drink beer, wine, or hard alcohol; it's all played for humor. Characters eat in a real New Orleans restaurant, and the scenes play like commercials. Some Apple products and Facebook are mentioned. The movie is available VOD as well as in theaters, so parents beware.
What's the story?
Jack (Rob Corddry) and his very pregnant wife, Vanessa (Leslie Bibb), move into a run-down fixer-upper house in a dangerous New Orleans neighborhood. They learn that it's called the "house of blood" and that several murders have been committed there. It's not long before Vanessa starts acting strangely -- speaking in dog language and sucking at bloody raw meat in the refrigerator. A neighbor, F'resnel (Keegan Michael Key), and two cops try to help, but it soon becomes apparent that they'll need assistance of a more spiritual bent. Fortunately, Fathers Sebastian and Padrigo (Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon) are on hand.
Is it any good?
Written and directed by Garant and Lennon, co-creators of the Reno 911! series and movie, as well as Balls of Fury, HELL BABY certainly isn't the worst horror comedy of all time (see Transylmania). It's told in a series of related sketches, rather than through a tightly constructed plot, and the actors were allowed to improvise; no one is weighed down by bad writing. In this environment, every once in a while a decent joke makes it through -- or at least jokes so odd or unlikely that you may find yourself amused later.
And the cast members are, at the very least, largely likeable. Key often strikes just the right note as offbeat neighbor F'resnel, and Riki Lindhome is appealing as Vanessa's kooky sister. But most of it is still pretty bad. It often feels lazy and, when in doubt, falls back on bad taste. A large percentage of the jokes just fall flat, and the bulk of the movie is annoyingly repetitive, which only smacks of desperation.
Families can talk about...
- Families can talk about Hell Baby's extreme blood and gore. Are audiences expected to laugh at this stuff? Are there any circumstances under which blood and gore are funny?
- What stereotypes did you notice in the movie? What does it have to say about them?
- What's the difference between lowbrow humor and other types of humor? What makes it appeal to some people?
|Theatrical release date:||September 6, 2013|
|DVD/Streaming release date:||December 31, 2013|
|Cast:||Keegan Michael Key, Leslie Bibb, Rob Corddry|
|Directors:||Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon|
|Run time:||98 minutes|
|MPAA explanation:||bloody violence, graphic nudity, sexual content, language and some drug use|
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