The Babysitter: Killer Queen Review

Director McG and most of the cast of 2017’s inexplicable hit The Babysitter try to cast their spell again.

Jenny Ortega and Judah Lewis in The Babysitter: Killer Queen
Photo: Tyler Golden/Netflix

Just when you thought it was safe to check out Netflix tonight, the streamer has dumped a sequel to its 2017 hit The Babysitter into its endless river of algorithm-calibrated goo. But while some critics apparently found the first movie charming–and appreciated the presence of rising horror-comedy star Samara Weaving (Ready or Not)–The Babysitter: Killer Queen fails on every level to make even a perfunctory case for a follow-up.

For one thing, Weaving is not the lead baddie this time around, even if most of the rest of the cast from the original encore here. Now you may ask how all the other slain cultist villains return. But a script that combines “no one’s ever really dead in horror” contrivances with some motivation-destroying retconning makes it easy. Too easy. But nothing about the story makes sense on any level, and it’s a wonder that it took returning director McG and three other bros to hammer this nonsense out.

Two years after the first film, poor Cole (Judah Lewis) is now a junior in high school but still scarred by the night in which his now-missing babysitter Bee (Weaving) and her cult tried to sacrifice him to the Devil. The only person who seemingly believes him is loyal friend Melanie (Emily Alyn Lind), while his parents plan to submit him to a psychiatric school.

Melanie convinces Cole to join her, her boyfriend Jimmy (Maximilian Acevedo), and two other pals at a lake party, but when they get there Cole discovers that the satanic cult is back. With a new leader at the helm, members John (Andrew Bachelor), Max (Robbie Amell), Allison (Bella Thorne), and Sonya (Hana Mae Lee) are still eager to tap Cole’s innocent (i.e. virginal) blood, and this time the only ally he finds is Phoebe (Jenny Ortega), a rebellious new student who shows up at the lake for reasons of her own.

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If The Babysitter was–as our review points out–an unfunny homage to 1980s teen slasher comedies, The Babysitter: Killer Queen doubles down on being unfunny and ramping up all that was wrong the first time around, including some of the broadest, most irritating ensemble acting we’ve endured in this or any other year. Also the nostalgia-baiting use of “Killer Queen” in the title seems drawn purely the use of the classic Queen song late in the film, and no other discernible reason.

McG just throws whatever he can at the camera, using pop-up bubbles, onscreen exclamations, pointless flashbacks, and slow motion sequences to pound home the fact that you’re supposed to be laughing at all this. But like the attention-deficit, bro-dude that he has always been behind the camera, McG forgets about all this stuff the minute he deploys it. A seeming attempt at some high school satire early on is abandoned as soon as low-level misogyny and slapdash gore is introduced.

Yes, there are plenty of kills in The Babysitter: Killer Queen that you’re supposed to chuckle at and perhaps hoot over due to their sheer outrageousness, but those wear out their welcome too. With characters as flat as the surface of the movie’s lake, there’s zero investment in what happens to any of them, and even the gore itself is spoiled by the obvious CG nature of it all. Those ‘80s movies that this film wants so desperately to be associated with at least had a tactile quality, even when the effects weren’t the best; here you might as well be looking at a cartoon.

The biggest question is: how does Joseph McGinty Nichol keep getting work as a director? From Charlie’s Angels (2000) to Terminator Salvation (2009) to This Means War (2012), to his nearly unwatchable Netflix catastrophe Rim of the World (2019), McG’s career has been one slab of mediocrity after another. But clearly The Babysitter drew enough eyeballs to Netflix (after being sold off by New Line Cinema) that the programming bots decided to make this a franchise.

By the time we get to a surprise reveal in the final reel (involving an actor who clearly has no interest in being there any longer than necessary), one has long become numb to The Babysitter: Killer Queen’s frantic nature, faux raunchiness, slack pacing, and barely there narrative. If the goal of a babysitter is to make sure that their charge drifts off peacefully to sleep, then this silly sequel may succeed on those terms alone.

The Babysitter: Killer Queen is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating:

1.5 out of 5