Whoa, Harry Potter is going to sue somebody! Well…probably just the opening credits at least (the way they come at you, the actual font might be where Tim Burton enters the lawsuit), but then again, this movie does have similar beats to Sorcerer’s Stone, but then yet again, an unrecognizable Tom Felton is in this (he played Draco Malfoy), so maybe he got the okay from Rowling and Warner Bros.? I’m just kidding, I just thought that would be an interesting review starter to get you to read my critique on Netflix’s new original family film that just released today. A BABYSITTER’S GUIDE TO MONSTER HUNTING is what Hubie Halloween should’ve been: a fun and adventurous yet spooky Halloween family film that could end up being something you watch every year with your loved ones alongside Hocus Pocus and the Harry Potter films. Or is Harry Potter a more Thanksgiving and/or Christmas time series? Doesn’t matter, this is Netflix’s closest thing it will ever get to trying to recreate the feeling of what we all feel while watching Hocus Pocus 27 years later. Go in completely dark, don’t even watch a trailer to this, as I didn’t, and my expectations were so so low due to the title and the fact that it is a Netflix original, but I was slapping myself for being a precognitive Negative Nancy by minute twenty. This movie is just delightful, with top notch child performances, Tom Felton’s best performance to date (but who are we kidding, how hard was that?), and decent creature feature CGI effects that make whatever was in Disney+’s Secret Society Of Second Born Royals look like it was created by Woody Woodpecker using computers. This is the Halloween film getaway treat you were looking for, so please, don’t even start Hubie Halloween or if you are in the middle of it, abandon it completely, and knock on this other door, I promise you it is no trick.
IMDB describes A Babysitter’s Guide To monster Hunting with the following: “A babysitter embarks on a mission to save a child who’s been abducted by monsters.” What that premise doesn’t tell you is that this movie is Harry Potter-esque, as there is a coven, legion, group, what have you of babysitter’s that fight these said monsters all the time. They have a meet up laboratory with monster fighting gadgets and gizmos, a giant book filled with information on all the different creatures within this world, and even apprentices looking to join said group. Tom Felton plays a boogey man named Grand Guigol that wants to make a legion of nightmares and monsters come to life to overtake our world so he can rule it. The child he kidnaps is the key to making this happen, and his babysitter named Kelly, who had a run in with Guigol when she was young, must stop it before it is too late. This movie thankfully isn’t convoluted, does the “keep it simple, stupid” film making mindset, yet also incorporates some brilliant set ups and pay offs required so that both adults and their kids can enjoy it, without either getting bored or falling asleep. Tamara Smart plays Kelly (she was also in this year’s straight to streaming on Disney+’s Artemis Fowl, which should’ve been something like this movie but was too dumb downed and convoluted) and Oona Laurence plays the veteran babysitter already in the legion trying to help Kelly out. They both do a fantastic acting job in regards to mostly reacting to CGI special effects to make you think they are real. There is a couple of shaky CGI moments, such as the little different colored minion monsters and such but anything involving Tom Felton or Shadow Tentacle Monsters in the dark are quite realistic and spooky at times.
Just like Hocus Pocus, this movie rides the line of being too scary for younger children, but thankfully it rides that line well, where they won’t be hiding under the covers, but may sit next to you and lean their head on mommy or daddy’s head, still with their eyes glued to the screen, until the next scene comes along. I haven’t read the book that this movie is based off of, but I have a feeling the reason why it is so good is because the author wrote the screenplay, making sure he got the essence of his beloved novel just right. The director Rachel Talalay, is no stranger to spooky kooky films, as she’s directed episodes of Riverdale, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, BBC’s Sherlock, and her first feature film was even Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. She does an adequate job here, the action plain as day to see with no shaky came and shots that make the monsters scarier than they were probably meant to be. She seems like she had fun directing it (and Ghostbuster’s director Ivan Reitman even produced this, he must’ve saw something in it). The best thing about this film is surprisingly Tom Felton as boogeyman Grand Guigol, as they made him look like a zombie Sirius Black and acts like an evil Jack Sparrow with Voldemort motivations. I had a fun time watching his performance. Other than a couple of weird moments, obligatory sequel set ups and pacing issues in the finale, this new movie should be a fun little addition to your Halloween queue. Stop the hunting for something good and new Halloween feature wise. You’ve found it.