Review: Hell Baby / Cert: TBC / Director: Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon / Screenplay: Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon / Starring: Rob Corddry, Leslie Bibb, Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon / Release Date: TBC (UK)
Hell Baby is exactly the type of movie you would make with your friends if some studio executive got high, gave you $2 million, and told you to have something on his desk after the long weekend. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Ironically though, the makers of Hell Baby were given full studio backing and carte blanche to do practically whatever they wanted, by executives still in control of their motor skills. Allegedly. Actors/screenwriters Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon also share directorial duties on the film, which has more in common with the Reno 911! duo’s early sketch comedy troupe The State, than it does with any of the recent horror/comedy offerings.
The film opens with married couple Jack and very pregnant Vanessa (Corddry and Bibb), moving into their newly purchased New Orleans McMansion, lovingly nicknamed ‘Maison de Sang’ (or, ‘House of Blood’ for those unfamiliar with Louisiana creole). Very quickly they suspect that all is not as it seems, as Vanessa begins to exhibit demonic tendencies severe enough to garner the attention of the Vatican’s most elite exorcism duo, Fathers Sebastian and Padrigo (Garant and Lennon). Throw in a pair of improv-heavy cops (Rob Heubel and Paul Scheer), a possessed foetus, and a 1970s playboy, and you have the ingredients of the year’s most ridiculous and self-indulgent horror-comedy.
This decadence, however, proves to be the proverbial double-edged sword. Though prolonged scenes chronicling the principle cast demolishing Po-Boys and ‘pizza salad’ are funny in isolation, the overuse of them at the peril of narrative turns the film into a trivial and absurd exercise.
It’s also a shame that Rob Corddry is forced to be the straight man to Keegan Michael Key’s frankly exasperating neighbour, F’resnel – a character who demonstrates the oppressive restrictions of the budget better than any – using the same old joke over and over again, to the point of numbing the audience.
Yet in reality, Hell Baby is solid B-movie material, something you won’t regret watching at 2am with a handful of your closest friends. If the film were a pizza, it’d be a 28” Meat Feast with chillies, chicken nuggets, and chocolate raisins (I don’t know, I don’t eat pizza), held together by a disappointingly weak ass cheesy base.