You know what I’ve noticed? Sequels almost always suck. With almost every attempt, you’ll see a director trying to make lightning strike twice where mostly they partially succeed. In recent years, it’s not uncommon to see sequel fail outright. The Babysitter: Killer Queen does not fall into that latter category. It’s not a failure, but I can’t say it’s a success either. Often this film will remind you that it’s a sequel and will infrequently stop the movie to remind you that sequels are never as good as the original (or, heaven forbid, better). In fact, this movie claims that only four sequels were better than their predecessor.
I don’t know if that’s being cheeky or if the director, McG, is trying to force us to believe that The Babysitter: Killer Queen is one of those four movies that outshine the original. I’m not torn on whether this sequel is superior to the original because it simply isn’t. While parts of Killer Queen are noticeably improved over the original, even more parts feel completely unnecessary and make the film come across as repeating the same plot as before… Which it is.
It’s not an exact carbon copy, but I had a sense of deja vu more than once over the 100 minutes I spent with the movie and not really in a good way.
The Babysitter: Killer Queen
Release Date: September 10, 2020 (Netflix)
Set two years after the events of the first movie, Cole (Judah Lewis) is in high school now and is traumatized from the whole attempting to be sacrificed by a Satanic cult thing. Of course, no one believes him, save for his childhood friend, Melanie (Emily Alyn Lind). With Cole constantly stressed out, he plans a trip with Melanie to a secluded lake to try and finally put his past behind him. Needless to say, it doesn’t work.
The promotional material doesn’t shy away from the fact that all of the original cult members who died in the first movie have returned to enact vengeance on Cole, minus Samara Weaving’s Bee. They’re more or less the same stock stereotypes as the first time (jock, cheerleader, etc.), but are much less effective without the chance to act off the chilling and mysterious Weaving. The jokes around them don’t land that often, although several of the callbacks to the first movie (usually heralded by Robbie Amell’s character Max who is still shirtless the entire movie) offer up the best material here.
Like the original film, The Babysitter: Killer Queen is a horror-comedy that knows exactly when to dial up the gore and deliver an over-the-top spectacle. The gore is pretty alright throughout, with numerous scenes that stand-out in my mind much more than before. Decapitations abound, with my personal favorite kill involving a boat and silly string. There’s not quite as much shock value this time around, we know there’s gonna be some crazy violence like in the original, but each death is still highly effective and delivers the kind of thrills you’d expect.
No matter how hard I try, I can’t help but compare this movie to the original. It would be one thing if Killer Queen tried to step out of the shadow set by its 2017 counterpart, but McG seems perfectly comfortable just remixing all of the first film’s greatest hits. There are a group of aggressively dumb high school killers (I’m fact it’s almost exactly the same group), a tender love that blooms over the course of the night, and even a giant “WTF” message that pops up when things start heading south. This is basically the same structure from the first movie beat for beat.
That pace and style worked in The Babysitter because you can tell that it had a lot of charm, heart, and a cast that had a ton of fun making a campy horror movie. I didn’t get that impression from Killer Queen. Pop culture references are thrown in not because they build upon the relationships of any characters -like how Bee and Cole bonded over sci-fi nerd franchises-, but because the first movie did it. It sometimes works, like how Cole figures out the password to a boat named Jenny, but the vast majority of these references don’t make sense in the logic of this established universe.
There’s a sequence towards the end of the movie that completely jumps the shark to the point where I thought it had to have been a dream sequence. There’s no way that this was meant to be taken seriously, and yet here it was. It wasn’t cute or funny, just incredibly lame.
It’s not all doom and gloom, at least. Most of the young cast are great in their roles and I’d love to see more movies starring them. Jenna Ortega, playing the baggage ridden Phoebe, is straight-up a star in the making with her delivering a complex and awesome performance anytime she’s on-screen. Ortega certainly can’t compare to Weaving, but she almost fills the void left by her with wit and authenticity… almost.
The Babysitter was one of my favorite movies of 2017, a hidden gem in a year that was already stuffed with excellent movies. Not being as good as that movie is perfectly understandable. I can also readily admit that several group viewings may have inflated my opinion of the original whereas I saw this movie by myself. Maybe watching it with a large group will change my opinion, but I won’t know that for at least a few years (or possibly decades).
The Babysitter: Killer Queen is still a fun movie, overall, it’s just nowhere near as fun as the original. Try as it might, this second go can’t exceed the stupid fun from the first time.