REVIEW: The Babysitter: Killer Queen (2020)
We’re nearing the end of September, and with that comes the first big wave of horror films to start hitting streaming services, and everybody knows that it’s not truly a horror movie season until we receive at least one big name horror movie sequel that we never asked for but secretly very much wanted. “The Babysitter: Killer Queen” is the successor to Netflix’s “The Babysitter”, an unexpected hit from 2017 and perhaps the film most heavily responsible for its breakout star Samara Weaving (although, 2017’s Mayhem with Steven Yeun and Samara Weaving is an incredibly great film as well). “The Babysitter” is a film that homages many of the great teenage cheesecake horror movies of the 80’s while still bringing plenty of fresh life to the genre. The blend of Satanic cultists, well-timed comedy, and slasher-esque body horror makes for an incredibly charming film.
“Killer Queen” picks up two years after the events of the first movie, following the character of Cole as he navigates his new life as a high schooler who is often ridiculed for going crazy and burning his family’s house down, which is actually a great premise for a sequel. The story immediately feels very grounded and begins exploring territory which is rarely charted in typical horror sequels. There’s a great sequence when Cole is confessing to a friend about his use of anxiety medication and how he is ashamed of this fact. Then, a number of other high schoolers are shown in the hallway, each with a similar prescription, mental disorder, or drug addiction. It does an interesting job highlighting the trauma that plagues many high schoolers of today, but sadly the film doesn’t explore this idea much beyond this moment. Coincidentally, this is also the time that a lot of the movie started to fall apart for me. The main characters run away to a camp for the weekend, and then a bunch of Satanic mumbo jumbo starts to happen; and while this sounds like a lot of fun, the movie finds a lot of ways to just make this feel boring. There’s a lot of aimlessly wandering around in forests and outdated pop culture references that are pawned off as jokes, none of which really contributes to any development of the story or its characters.
Something that makes the original Babysitter movie great is that there’s a massive horror-movie twist that happens at the end of the first act. It’s a great subversion of the genre where so many twists are saved for the final act, and the film does a brilliant job of getting the audience to buy into the characters so that the twist is still incredibly impactful after just one act. Conversely, the sequel is almost entirely predicated on the twist happening, so even though there are some interesting moments in the first 30 minutes of the film, you’re really just sitting there waiting for somebody to have their freaking arm ripped off by a possessed cheerleader in a miniskirt. By the time that actually happens, it’s so overdue that it’s really not even that satisfying. You ever order a meal at the restaurant that you were super excited to eat, but then you were kept waiting for an hour or so and by the time your food got to you it didn’t even taste that good? That’s what this movie feels like. There are some really cool moments, but none of them really feel earned and so many of them happen after dull, pointless sequences of filler.
As far as highlights, there are still a few. The film has some real potential, which is partially what makes it frustrating to watch. There are a handful of clever lines and actually funny moments, especially with some members of the original cast who return for this film. The horror effects are very well-done and unique, and the film overall does succeed in its homaging to the B-movie horror films of the 80’s and 90’s. In terms of tone, it is very similar to the first film, which is worth noting. I think that the delivery of that tone falls flat, but this definitely feels like a sequel, something that’s not always the case with these kinds of movies. What I will say, though, is that it fails on the fundamental idea of what a sequel should be. A good sequel should take the ideas and concepts that worked from the original, and use those as a launching pad to elevate the story and characters in an already established world. This movie, however, attempts to capture lightning in a bottle for the second time, and just can’t quite make it happen.
The Babysitter: Killer Queen is available to stream now on Netflix.
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