We get it. Following up a fun, fresh, and highly entertaining slice of comedic horror can be a tough challenge. Just ask the makers of Return of the Living Dead II (1988), Tremors II: Aftershocks (1996), and An American Werewolf in Paris (1997). Still, as bad as it has historically been for some sequels, few deliver as unfunny, unexciting, and underwhelming an experience as The Babysitter: Killer Queen.
It’s been two years since Cole (Judah Lewis) faced off against the satanic cult led by his otherwise awesome babysitter (Samara Weaving). They killed a stranger and two cops in Cole’s house and attempted to off him too, but luck, creativity, and a spunky resilience saw the teen triumph instead. Of course, all of the evidence somehow disappeared — including the death of those cops whose last known stop was Cole’s house, but whatever — so Cole is now even more of an outcast than before. Other teens think he’s weird, his parents suspect him of suffering a mental break, and the threat of a psych ward hangs in the air.
He heads off for a weekend of hopeful relaxation with his best friend Melanie (Emily Alyn Lind) and some others, but what should be a fun time with drinks, drugs, and shenanigans instead turns deadly. Cult members new and old converge leaving Cole once again fighting for his life, kissing girls well out of his league, and clumsily tripping his way through the carnage. I mean, why target a child when you can just assume Cole is still an innocent virgin?
McG’s never been the most reliable director, but his surprisingly fantastic Netflix debut, 2017’s The Babysitter (my review here), remains an absolute blast of big laughs and bloody demises. His playful, energetic directing style pairs well with Brian Duffield’s sharp script, and the result is an immensely fun movie filled with personality. The Babysitter: Killer Queen is none of that. Duffield is replaced by four co-writers who try aggressively to find laughs that never come, and McG’s style is left flailing in the breeze without the anchor of good writing.
The story delivers one interesting turn before devolving into a series of recycled gags, jokes, and plot turns. Where the first film weaves in humor built on the teenage experience and awkward relationships with both family and peers, the sequel scrambles to find similar touchstones and winds up grasping for air. The writers — Dan Lagana, Brad Morris, Jimmy Warden, and McG — seem to think bigger and dumber was the way to go here. Where the original feels like a relatively straightforward overnight slasher with a heavy dose of charisma, this one throws any semblance of structure out a gaudy window. A fight suddenly becomes an excerpt from a Mortal Kombat game. Another scene takes the form of a televised dance competition with protagonists and antagonists alike stepping out for an unseen audience. The first film is silly, but this is just stupid.
Cole has seemingly regressed as well. A quirky teen in the original, he’s become something of an imbecile in The Babysitter: Killer Queen. Where we rooted for him before, here audiences would probably be perfectly okay with his death. His lack of growth is in line with the lack of care afforded every character. The returning cultists are flat copies of their original selves, content shoveling the same jokes and violent gags. Surprise, Max (Robbie Amell) is still a shirtless bro, John (Andrew Bachelor) is still channeling an obnoxious 80s punchline machine, and Allison (Bella Thorne) gets her boob shot… again! And they’re *still* more fleshed out than the new satanic recruits. Leslie Bibb and and Ken Marino are back as Cole’s parents, and while both are fine they’re once again given far too little to do. Chris Wyle, in contrast, is given too much as Melanie’s returning dad.
So if the comedy is almost entirely a bust, how’s the horror side of things? Sadly, it fares only slightly better. The film is once again a frequently bloody romp, but while we get a handful of practical gags the overwhelming amount of blood flow is done digitally. The gory beats blend the two resulting in a mix of the meh and the mildly memorable. None of the kills stand out, though, meaning it’s far from enough to make this movie worth a watch.
The Babysitter: Killer Queen spends more time ensuring its characters all ring false in their dialogue and actions than it does explaining the title. To be clear, it spends no time on the latter, but the point remains. It’s a misfire that fails to entertain as either horror or comedy, and that’s a sin in my book when it comes to horror/comedies.