The genre of comedy horror movies has a very uneven history. For every gem of spooky spoofery like Mel Brooks 1974 classic Young Frankenstein, you get decades of duds including the Scary Movie series, Saturday the 14th, Club Dred, the Chucky franchise and this years Marlon Wayons atrocity, A Haunted House.
Now we can add Hell Baby to the pile of dreck in the genre.
Hell Baby, Thomas Lennons first outing as co-director (Robert Ben Garant previously helmed 2007s Reno 911! Miami) is a take on the demonic possession premise, i.e., its yet another Exorcist parody. It follows an expectant couple, played by Rob Corddry (The Daily Show, Hot Tub Time Machine) and Leslie Bibb (Talladega Nights, Iron Man), who purchase an old, rundown house in New Orleans.
In an early scene, Keegan-Michael Key (MadTV, Key and Peele) pops up in the window, scaring them half to death, and tells Corddry and Bibb that their new abode is known in the neighborhood as the house of blood, the place where the dead never left, and the spooky house down the way but not to worry because nobodys been murdered here for a long time. Its been two months and a week, as a matter of fact.
That pretty much defines the level of humor here. Scene after scene goes by without a single funny line or decent gag. Key continues to appear and scare Corddry as part of a miserable running joke that has him living in Corddrys crawlspace for reasons unexplained.
In fact, that seems to be the one element of modern horror films that Garant and Lennon have seized on to satirize that these films often just succeed in giving the audience a jolt instead of a legitimate scare. Im so tired of being startled! Corddry yells at one point, but that still doesnt result in a legitimate laugh.
Garant and Lennon also wrote themselves into this nonsense as a pair of creepy priests from the Vatican who arrive to perform an exorcism on Bibb, who now carries the spawn of Satan.
The newly possessed Bibb, so pregnant that it looks like she is smuggling a beach ball under her clothing, has by now started killing people, including former The State cast mate Michael Ian Black, who plays her therapist.
Gratuitous nudity (largely provided by Riki Lindhome as Bibbs free-spirited sister), vomit and gallows humor galore tiresomely fill the gaps between predictable story beats all of it boring.
Such a sorry enterprise will make movie fans better appreciate the much better Exorcist-spoofing in Seth Rogen and Evan Goldbergs This Is the End from earlier in the summer.
Its actually sad that this cast who could probably do improv in their sleep that would be better than what you get in this tossed-off horror comedy couldnt scare up anything funny in Hell Baby.