'Hell Baby'

Co-directors and co-stars Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon star as exorcists dispatched from the Vatican to investigate a possible possession in the movie "Hell Baby." (Millennium Entertainmentt)

Horror spoofs have become something of a spawning menace these days, especially when horror movies themselves are often ridiculous enough to warrant laughter. At least "Hell Baby" has the distinction of coming from two funny parents — writers-directors-stars Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon ("Reno 911!") — and emphasizes a gallery of amusingly offbeat characters brandishing shtick over ripped-off-from-classic-movies sight gags.

The simple set-up has eager parents-to-be Jack (Rob Corddry) and Vanessa (Leslie Bibb) moving into a questionable New Orleans fixer-upper where, according to their ever-present neighbor (a hilarious Keegan Michael Key), "nobody has been murdered in a lo-o-o-ong time" — by which he means months. When Bibb shows signs of not being entirely herself, chain-smoking Vatican-dispatched priests (Garant and Lennon) arrive for what can only be described as an exorcism/birth that resembles a kind of devil-child hot potato.

"Hell Baby" 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 and even allow for the kind of retro deadpan silliness Mel Brooks used to underline his louder punch lines.

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"Hell Baby"

MPAA rating: R for bloody violence, graphic nudity, sexual content, language and some drug use.

Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Playing: Galleria at South Bay 16 and on VOD