Tom Lennon and Ben Garant’s latest comedy, Hell Baby, has been available on VOD since July, but it hits select theaters today, and the reviews are mixed-to-meh. The film, which stars Rob Corddry and Leslie Bibb as an expectant couple who move into a haunted house and end up with a demonic baby, earned a 35% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 40/100 on Metacritic. Despite praise for co-stars Keegan-Michael Key and Riki Lindhome, most critics weren’t sold on the horror-comedy spoof, which Lennon and Garant wrote, directed, and acted in.
On the positive side of the things, The Dissolve says the film “falls unmistakably on the “comedy” side of the horror-comedy divide. It isn’t overly concerned with being scary, just with delivering a steady stream of laughs,” while The Boston Herald says it “suggests a 98-minute “MADtv”-style skit. I mean this in a good way.” The Village Voice calls it “delightfully crude in places (including an instance of relay puking) and just plain silly-clever in others.”
Somewhere in the middle, The Los Angeles Times says that it “emphasizes a gallery of amusingly offbeat characters brandishing shtick over ripped-off-from-classic-movies sight gags,” but it “isn’t what anyone would call a laugh riot or a defining poke in the eye at horror movies, but its modest (if occasionally gross-out) stabs at genre parody rarely insult our intelligence.” Similarly, The A.V. Club says the film “functions exactly like a sketch movie, using its meager, essentially irrelevant plot as a clothesline upon which to string a series of self-contained bits. At least half of the bits are pretty damn funny, though.”
On the other end of the scale, The Boston Globe strikes a particularly low blow, saying “this offensive, crass pastiche makes Grown Ups 2 look like a paragon of wit and good taste.” Meanwhile, Variety calls it “tedious and tasteless in equal measure” and describes it as “a pileup of poorly improvised scenes and repetitive gags demonstrating zero flair for either satire or straightforward comedy.” And The New York Times says the film “rarely dares to be smart, settling instead for familiar gags that would have the Devil himself yawning” and cites Corddry’s show Children’s Hospital as a more “sophisticated” comedy.