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A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting Movie Review - Fun but Too Tame

Cute monsters and shaky plot points make the film too bland.

Reviewed by on Oct 15, 2020
Rating: 3 Star Rating

Kidzworld saw A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting. Is it like the books? Does it make sense? Will you get a Halloween scare? Check out our movie review.



In A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting, math-whiz, high school freshman Kelly Ferguson (Tamara Smart) reluctantly agrees to babysit Jacob Zellman (Ian Ho) on Halloween instead of the big party she wants to attend. Jacob is able to materialize the monsters in his nightmares and, when he is kidnapped by Boogeyman the Grand Guignol (Tom Felton), Kelly is recruited by Liz Lerue (Oona Laurence) of an international secret society of Babysitters, to retrieve him before the monsters capture his nightmare creatures to use in an evil takeover.

Will Liz (Oona Laurence) ask Kelly ( Tamara Smart) to join the Babysitters Society?Will Liz ask Kelly to join the Babysitters Society?Courtesy of Netflix

Early Scare

A five-year-old girl wakes. She’s afraid of her toys that seem to come alive. Her closet door opens and long fingers emerge. Kelly wakes up at her desk in a high school Freshman class. She is called “Monster Girl” because of her frequent nightmares and insistence that monsters are real. Kelly is also a math whiz able to solve problems in her head. Her BFF doesn’t really believe she saw monsters at age five but loves her anyway. They plan to attend a big Halloween party where Kelly’s crush Victor (Alessio Scalzotto) will be stalked by mean girl Deanna (Anisa Harris).

Change of Plans

Kelly learns that her mom has committed her to babysit Halloween night for Jacob, the difficult child of her controlling boss Mrs. Zellman (Tamsen McDonough). If Kelly doesn’t mom might lose her job. Mrs. Z. has tons of rules for the care of her son who simply won’t go to sleep. Kelly learns that Jacob is scared of Halloween and has awful nightmares where monsters seem to come alive. Kelly can relate due to her early experience. While Kelly is on the phone with her BFF learning that Deanna is after Victor at the party, a human-like creature comes out of Jacob’s closet telling him that his ability to bring his nightmares to life will help him capture and control them.

The Grand Guignol (Tom Felton) wants to steal Jacob's nightmare creaturesThe Grand Guignol wants to steal Jacob's nightmare creaturesCourtesy of Netflix


Kelly rushes into the room to see three strange, small creatures grabbing Jacob and stuffing him into a sack. They go through a hole in the floor that disappears! Outside, a teen girl on a moped pulls up. She explains that she is a babysitter and we see a baby girl in a carrier on her back. She asks about Jacob and says the creatures are Toadies and they kidnap kids. Using a special flashlight she and Kelly can see “The Time of Nightmares Has Begun” scrawled on Jacob’s bedroom wall. She uses a device to track the Toadies. Kelly wants to go with her. After impressing the girl (Liz Larue) with her math knowledge of footprints, she is allowed to hop on back of the moped. There was some other person or creature entering the Zellman house that night.

The Guidebook

Liz explains that the Toadies travel through tunnels under the city and she has a ground-penetrating radar device to track them. She shows Kelly her Guide to Monster Hunting book that has been passed down to a secret society of babysitters through the ages. Kelly should memorize the monsters in it. At an old Chuckie Cheese type store, Liz uses the baby to lure out the Toadies but encircles her with a protective circle of baby powder. It works but Kelly, concerned about the baby, messes up the trap. None-the-less, a Toadie is captured. Meanwhile, we see that in some kind of underground lair, Jacob comes out of his sack.

Liz's light finds the writing on Jacob's wallLiz's light finds the writing on Jacob's wallCourtesy of Netflix

Sleepy Time?

The Boogeyman who came to Jacob’s room is the Grand Guignol and he wants to make an attacking army out of the monsters Jacob’s nightmares can conjure up. First he has to get Jacob to sleep and his usual tactics (mostly hypnosis) aren’t working. Meanwhile, Liz takes Kelly to a building where she drops the Toadie down a trash chute. This is the Babysitters secret society chapter headquarters in the Rhode Island area. Inside she meets tech genius Berna Vincent (Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson), creature expert Cassie Zhen (Lynn Masako Cheng) and potions master Curtis Critter (Ty Consiglio). Their new mission is to get Jacob back before midnight.


Kelly learns that there are seven Boogeypeople living in a Nightmare Realm. All of the kids at babysitter HQ are like Kelly. They were attacked by some kind of monster. To take down the Grand Guignol, they need a magic potion but don’t have the ingredients. Someone will have to literally jump at him to get it inside. No babysitter has ever done it. Kelly uses her math skills to figure out a way. Curtis gives Kelly some cool weapons. They put a tracker on the Toadie and let it go. The G.G. figures that the babysitters are tracking the Toadie and tells it to lead them away from him.

Berna (Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson), Cassie (Lynn Masako Cheng) and Curtis (Ty Consiglio) try to help KellyBerna, Cassie and Curtis try to help KellyCourtesy of Netflix

The Party

Liz and Kelly end up at the party Kelly is missing. Her crush Victor is there. He accidentally runs into her and spills a drink. She doesn’t know what to say. They track a shadow creature to the basement. Kelly keeps it at bay with a light while trying to keep Victor from seeing it. She makes a fool of herself in order to keep the secret. Kelly’s mom calls but is put off track by babysitter whiz Berna. Mom thinks Kelly is still babysitting Jacob. G.G. still can’t get Jacob to sleep. He needs a cat’s eye amulet to hypnotize him. Liz knows this is kept by a glamorous witch named Peggy Drood (Indya Moore). They go to her but the G.G. arrives and grabs Liz and the amulet. Kelly is on her own.

Witchy Peggy (Indya Moore) Drood works with Grand Guignol (Tom Felton)Witchy Peggy Drood works with Grand GuignolCourtesy of Netflix


Will Kelly be able to rescue Jacob and Liz? Will she make sure Jacob’s dream creatures aren’t launched into the world under the Grand Guignol’s control? Will she be an official Babysitter in the society and can she get Jacob back home before his mom ever discovers he was kidnapped?

Kelly (Tamara Smart) and Liz (Oona Laurence) have to rescue Jacob (Ian Ho)Kelly and Liz have to rescue JacobCourtesy of Netflix

Wrapping Up

Based on the first installment of Joe Ballarini's popular book series, A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting makes for colorful entertainment and is set up as a launchpad for future movies in the series.

Kelly is a Freshman in high school in the film but a middle-schooler in the novels. The movie’s monsters are more cute or “interesting” than scary and should appeal to ages 8 through maybe 11 rather than teens.  Perhaps in an effort not to scare little kids, the filmmakers watered down the scares too much.

The movie’s plot tries to stuff too much explanation info into the story making some of the lead characters’ actions a mystery. Just how the Babysitters secret society works, how they know what they know etc. is glossed over quickly. If you have not read the novels, you might be a little confused.

Liz and Kelly consult the guideLiz and Kelly consult the guideCourtesy of Netflix

Tom Felton, Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter Films, does well as the boogeyman but his make-up and costume aren’t as creepy as they could be. The character is stuck in one rut through the film; trying to get young Jacob to get to sleep. This makes for boredom when he should be scaring the lead characters more.

The way Kelly’s math skills are expressed with special visual effects, I couldn’t tell if she has a special power using math or she’s just very math-smart. Better to clarify this. Fans of the books might have filled in some of the blanks and truly enjoy the film more. We can award three stars.

A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting Movie Rating: 3

A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting Movie PosterCourtesy of Netflix

See A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting on Netflix starting October 15th.

Babysitting Adventures?

Have you had a few adventures and/or close calls while babysitting? Do you believe that, on some level, monsters are real? Are you a fan of the books? Clue everyone in with a comment or blog it up on your profile page.