Combine the comic CVs of triple threats Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon (Reno 911!, The State) with their cast’s past hits (The Daily Show, Childrens Hospital, Talladega Nights) and this devil-child riffathon would seem like a sure thing, or at least a safe bet for a few rib-cracking laughs. Although it’s pitched as a Rosemary’s Baby parody, the demonic pregnancy promises fewer jokes than the fact that an expectant mother (Leslie Bibb) and her husband (Rob Corddry) have moved into a decrepit New Orleans neighborhood. Satanic offspring are bad enough, but gentrifying house-flippers are the true face of evil.
Though all involved mug their hearts out, the titters are few and far between (and that includes Riki Lindhome’s very long, very nude first appearance as Bibb’s Wiccan sister). Playing cool against the others’ rising hysteria, Keegan Michael Key—one half of the Comedy Central sketch-show duo Key & Peele—steals his scenes as a man whose knowledge of the house’s dark history doesn’t keep him from living in its crawl space. But his ironic distance also suggests that the wiser move, for him and the rest, would have been to stay as far away as possible. And when you consider that Garant and Lennon make their living as screenwriters for hire, Hell Baby’s shoddy script is an unholy mystery.
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