Directed by: #RachelTalalay
Written by: #JoeBallarini
Tamara Smart takes centre stage within dreamland and nightmares alike as Kelly Ferguson, a high school freshman who doesn’t realise how under-experienced she is in babysitting. When the boy she is taking care of on Halloween night is captured by the Boogeyman (Tom Felton,) the protection of children is taken to a whole new level of significance in her life – this chaos of monster-ly danger has signalled the secret society of experienced babysitters, where Liz LeRue (Oona Laurence) arrives on a quest to find the boy and bring him back home. With only a book giving them decades worth of monster hunting information to keep them on track, will they have the true inner strength to save the child trapped between the claws of the Grand Guignol?
The highlight of A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting in its entirety is, without a doubt, the writing. The screenplay is written by Joe Ballarini, who is also the author of the book that this film is based on. This deeply rooted connection to the story and the characters shines through the writing with ease. Anyone would guess that writing a screenplay based on an already adored book would be difficult, and reading a book is very different from watching a film as well. Every reader will have their own vision of the unfolding story and how they interpret the words that dance across the pages. With film, audience members may interpret the meaning of the story differently but the unfolding scenes will always look the same to the naked eye. Ballarini has travelled with these characters for a long stretch of time, he knows the details of the story and the cores of these individuals better than anyone else ever could. I’m so eager to read the books after watching this film; I want to swim even deeper, diving head first into this wonderful world.
The acting skills that are presented by the cast are impressive, and that praise stretches to every cast member involved. There is an upbeat energy that is kept in the air throughout the film, the onscreen chemistry never seems forced or strained and at no point did it feel like there was a dip in characterisation due to lack of acting abilities. Tom Felton’s performance as the Boogeyman, ‘the Grand Guignol,’ stands out among the rest as an unsettling presence for older viewers and, when stepping into my 8 year old sister’s shoes as an audience member, he is definitely a threatening presence for younger viewers. A perfect splash of comedic responses from the figure helps to keep the tension as balanced as possible, as well as adding more personality to this rather evil and stony-hearted character.
A noteworthy part of what makes Felton’s performance captivating is the costume design (Carrie Grace.) The costume he wears appears to be somewhat rugged, but also has ‘stylish’ and more eye-catching contributions to it – almost matching that of his personality: a cold character that can still crack a few jokes and fire back witty remarks. Overall, the clothing is dark yet possesses a colourful haze to those dark shades, once again capturing the essence of the character’s inner self.
The only element that I’ve become aware of having mixed feelings about is the musical input of the film. The tracks that have been composed specifically for this film (by Matthew Margeson) are beyond perfect for setting the scene and creating a dramatic ambience. I could listen to these tracks as an album on repeat every day, I really do love them. On the other hand, the songs that have been chosen outside of these instrumental tracks seem incredibly out of place at times. In general, the song may fit with the scene’s pace and occurrence, but most of the time the beat doesn’t match up with the scene altogether. It unfortunately creates a bumpy introduction to some sections of the film. Although this aspect did irk me, in no way is the impact of this heavily negative on the film as a whole.
A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting is an extremely fun Halloween experience for the whole family to enjoy. However, I do recommend removing toys and plushies from your surroundings before watching… if you’re anything like me, paranoia can take over pretty quickly. This film is also available on Netflix – an accessible watch for many during this spooky holiday!