Back in 2017 Netflix released a fun little horror comedy picture called “The Babysitter”. Directed by McG and starring then relatively unknown Samara Weaving, it grabbed a lot of attention and was a critical hit. So naturally Netflix and McG decided to do a sequel called “The Babysitter: Killer Queen” attempting to be more gory, comedic, and outrageous. New villains join returning foes while Judah Lewis, who played the young protagonist in the first film, is once again thrust into a life or death situation only this time he’s not confined to his house and the comedy is not confined to funny deaths and quirky caricatures trying to kill a high school Freshman. “Killer Queen” tries to go bigger, louder, and more ridiculous and you get exactly that, but that does not necessarily make it a good sequel.
In this follow up released and set two years after the original, Cole Johnson (Judah Lewis) has become a social outcast as nobody believes his story about a murderous babysitter and her cult followers trying to kill him. His best friend Melanie (Emily Alyn Lind) is the only one who witnessed any of the events and invites Cole to a getaway at a lake with some classmates to help him loosen up. Suddenly Cole finds himself returning to his personal hell when the cultists from two years earlier, Sonya (Hana Mae Lee), John (Andrew Bachelor), Max (Robbie Amell) and Allison (Bella Thorne), return from the dead. Teaming up with new allies, the cult plans to complete the ritual they started as Cole and a local loner named Phoebe (Jenna Ortega) attempt to evade them until sunrise. In a lot of ways “Killer Queen” deserves credit for making honest attempts to up the ante and take the quirky premise of its predecessor in its own messed up direction, but in doing so it serves as the perfect mix of too much and too little by too often depending on what worked while also adding new elements and ideas that completely miss the mark.
First of all I will say this, “Killer Queen” is hilarious, just not always in the way I think it was meant to be. The first “Babysitter” movie was funny because it was a young kid besting older students and his hot babysitter who wanted his innocent blood for a ritual. That premise alone sounds ridiculous but add in the over-the-top and often grotesque deaths, the absolutely wild individual personalities of the characters, and the creativity involved it was a unique and fun ride. McG, who not only directed the sequel film but wrote it with three other people as original writer Brian Duffield was absent from the production, tries to take that ridiculousness and capitalize on it by basically throwing everything at the wall from a return of original villains who all mock their previous failures to modern pop culture references and even a literal video-game fight sequence reminiscent of “Scott Pilgrim”, but none of it really adds up to much as a whole. These funny little moments make “Killer Queen” worth watching but they’re not funny because they’re effective, they’re funny because they’re just so strange and out of nowhere.
Now one might say “well isn’t that the point” and I’d say yes it is, but it all still needs to add up to a bigger picture. A video game fight in the middle of this movie makes no sense with the world we’ve been shown. Cultists coming back from the dead makes no sense because we know they’re not the first to join the cult, so where the hell are the rest of the cultists who failed their missions? Fun twists and oddities in style only work if they compliment the movie’s universe and narrative and these don’t. They’re simply there as either fanfare or to make you say “what the hell am I watching”. They also often get in the way of the actual story distracting you from Cole’s attempts at survival and instead making you chuckle or cringe at references to Jordan Peele or once again assuming high schoolers in 2020 are millennials. Honestly any movie that refers to any group below the age of 25 as millennials is automatically getting huge points off for me at this point. It’s the most basic modern definition of trying too hard and that’s what this movie does, tries to hard to be what its predecessor was and it’s own movie at the same time and fails at accomplishing either goal.
The other side of this film is the horror side which doesn’t really work either. The deaths are less creative than before and many of the bloody moments are reminiscent of the far superior first film. One of the best parts of the first movie was that Cole was kind of like this R-rated Kevin McCallister using his ingenuity and creativity to get ahead of his enemies in his own home just with more blood and death. In this movie Cole is basically just your average horror movie protagonist running from the bad guys. The cast doesn’t really help either as the returning players don’t bring their A-game in trying to recapture their characters, especially Bella Thorne who truly feels like she’s just there for a paycheck. The newer cast doesn’t exactly prove to be memorable either although the two leads, Judah Lewis and Jenna Ortega, prove to be a charming pair who help keep the film afloat with their own unique blend of personalities. They’re really the best performers and characters in this whole film mostly because they’re the straight man and woman in this crazy upside down word of cult violence and holy shittness.
I get that a sequel is supposed to push things farther, explore the idea more, add to the world of the previous film and all that, but this movie either does too much or not enough to satisfy any of those expectations. “The Babysitter: Killer Queen” is a bloody mess in every sense of the phrase offering plenty of over-the-top gore that we’ve seen many times before, laughs that land for mere seconds before it jumps to another joke that more often than not kills the mood, pacing that prevents viewers from enjoying all the subtle moments that count, acting that mostly feels phoned in and bland, and writing that tries to throw everything plus the kitchen sink at the audience hoping they’ll have more fun than the first film. But we don’t. The first movie had a simple idea and it made the very best of its premise. It was charming, spooky, hilarious and quirky. This movie thinks its better than its predecessor, but it’s the perfect example of a sequel that tries too hard and falls flat on its face. While I’m not disappointed I gave “Killer Queen” a watch I’ll take the far superior, more focused and fully realized original any day.