The Babysitter: Killer Queen [2020]

Starring: Judah Lewis, Emily Alyn Lind, Robbie Amell & Bella Thorne & Samara Weaving
Directed by: McG

Distributed by: Netflix
Release Date: September 2020
Running Time: 101 mins

Synopsis: Two years after Cole survived a satanic blood cult, he’s living another nightmare: high school. And the demons from his past? Still making his life hell.

Released on Netflix in October 2017, The Babysitter was a guilty pleasure of mine when I reviewed it earlier this year so I was intrigued when it was announced that it was getting a sequel, especially considering most of the cast were returning despite being killed off in hideously gruesome ways in the original. I had low expectations going in, as horror movie sequels often have diminishing returns and after watching the trailer it looked like Bee, the titular Babysitter from the first movie, was not expected to appear. Samara Weaving played her in the original, and after experiencing a sudden rise in popularity due to films such as: Ready or Not and Bill & Ted Face the Music, it appeared that she was unavailable for this sequel.

Set two years after the original, The Babysitter: Killer Queen focuses on Cole in his Junior Year of High School as he struggles to come to terms with the traumatic events of the first movie and the fact that everyone thinks he made it up. This element was the most frustrating part of the film for me as it didn’t quite make sense given that a) there were numerous corpses to back up his story and b) his parents had met Bee and knew she existed. It just seemed like a way to reset the status quo slightly, whilst giving Cole some more existential angst to work through in the movie. Whilst the logic was a bit iffy, it is a familiar horror movie trope and it allowed for some interesting character development to run alongside the usual gore and one-liners – the same juxtaposition of heartfelt earnestness and gross-out comedy that served the original well.

In my review for The Babysitter, I compared the film to Home Alone, in that it featured a young kid defending himself against intruders in his home. Continuing with that theme, The Babysitter: Killer Queen is very reminiscent of Home Alone II: Lost in New York, in that it remixes the successful format of the original with a change in location, but spends most of the film re-treading familiar story beats to give viewers more of what they liked the first time around. McG’s directorial fingerprints remain visible on this movie through flourishes like on-screen text aimed the audience, quirky flashbacks that fill in the backstories of the original cult members and a rather trippy dance sequence. There’s an anarchic millennial feel to this movie that pays homage to the classic horror movies of the 80s, but also modernises the genre with a punk teen vibe. It’s not quite as irreverent and slapstick as Scary Movie franchise, but it also doesn’t quite take itself seriously as a real horror franchise.

Judah Lewis was a revelation in the first movie, and while he has clearly grown-up in the three years in-between the two films, he remains a charismatic young actor with real depth. The cultists from the original movie return from the dead in a rather matter-of-fact way and this time they have a new leader, although I won’t reveal their identity as it is part of the big twist midway through the film. While the absence of Samara Weaving as the main antagonist does cost the film some of its charm, Judah Lewis proves himself more than able to carry the movie as the leading man. The rest of the returning actors slip back into their roles rather effortlessly, although they continue to play rather broad under-developed caricatures. There are plenty of references to in-jokes from the first movie, such as Bella Thorne’s unfortunate boob injury and Robbie Amell’s weird bromance with Cole, which further demonstrates how the film follows the path laid out by its predecessor. In a rather meta moment, Terminator 2 is referenced in dialogue as one of the few sequels that surpasses the original, and it’s almost as if the movie openly acknowledges that it isn’t reinventing the wheel here, but servicing fans with more of the same.

While The Babysitter: Killer Queen does rehash a lot of what made the first movie so original and standout, it also manages to provide a sense of closure for Cole, Bee and their story. After being so invested in the characters in the first film, I was glad that the film managed to recapture that sincere bond between the two. A series of flashbacks laced throughout the film reveal some surprising motives behind Bee’s behaviour in the original movies, whilst allowing Samara Weaving an opportunity to cameo. While some may argue that the sequel wasn’t necessary, the climactic reveals at the end help to contextualise the events of the two films and ties a nice bow on the story. Hopefully there won’t be a third instalment as it might be in danger of following the mistakes of The Hangover trilogy, if there is.

Aimed more at the Gen-Z demographic than older horror aficionados, The Babysitter: Killer Queen revisits the characters and concept of the original movie without outstaying its welcome. Sitting somewhere between Scream and Scary Movie with its mix of post-modernism and gross-out humour, The Babysitter: Killer Queen is the perfect embodiment of horror for the Netflix generation. Despite the notable absence of the titular character for most of the film and the repetition of the core format, this is a horror sequel that avoids the common pitfall of ‘diminishing returns’ and delivers a follow-up that is every bit as good as the original, even if it never manages to exceed it.

Score – ★★★★

The Babysitter: Killer Queen is available now to stream on Netflix. A free-month trial is available for new users, if you sign-up here.

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