The Babysitter: Killer Queen (15)
Review: RJ Bland
McG (or Joseph McGinty Nichol as he is more formally known) is a Director that generally divides opinion. Beginning his career in the music industry, he has gone on to direct some big budget flashy features such as Charlie's Angels and Terminator Salvation. In fact, the former is one of the only projects he has helmed that has received a 'fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes. His work has never been particularly well received amongst critics and when a film landed on Netflix back in 2018 called The Babysitter, many were fully expecting another frenetic flop. However, it turned out to be one of the surprise genre hits of the year. The energetic mix of teen comedy and violent horror proved popular with audiences and critics alike and it wasn't long before a sequel was announced. But following up on an unexpected hit is not an easy task. Would Ol' McG be able to pull another rabbit out of the hat or would he revert to form and drop another clanger?
Set two years after the events of the first film, Cole (Judah Lewis) is having trouble adapting to teenage life. All the evidence that his babysitter and her satanic cult buddies tried to kill him somehow disappeared and rather than being viewed as a hero, he's viewed as a delusional weirdo who had some kind of breakdown. His parents are desperately trying to get him to admit he imagined the whole thing and at school he has no friends, apart from the attractive girl-next-door Melanie (who was in the first film). Fearing that his folks are about to have him committed he joins Melanie and some of her friends for a weekend of partying at a nearby lake. However, instead of doing the usual teen drug/drinking/sex thing, he's once again thrust into a battle for survival as new and old cult members alike converge on the party, hoping to complete the sacrificial ritual they started two years previously.
Great action, sharp dialogue, cool death scenes, a likeable cast, moments of seriousness amongst the mayhem. This is what we wrote in our review of The Babysitter during our 31 Days of Halloween blog series a couple of years ago. Yeah, so the follow-up has none of these (well, there's the odd death scene that's quite cool). Everything there was to like about the first movie is gone and in it's place is a hot mess of flippant one liners, tedious references to other (and better) films and baffling plot logic. It desperately wants to be cool and clever and meta but ultimately ends up coming across like a lame dad trying to appear cool in front of his teenage kids mates by swearing a lot and offering them booze.
Brian Duffield's script was one of the successes of the first film but Killer Queen has no less then four people writing the damn thing. Their efforts to garner laughs fail to hit the mark at an alarming rate and at times, it's genuinely cringeworthy. To be fair to McG, there aren't too many directors who could salvage something palatable out of a script as rancid as this. Parts of it feel like a load of social media memes stitched together. However his commitment to gimmicky aesthetics only adds to the frustration. From Streetfighter style fight scenes to slow motion background sets to baffling retro flashback sequences, it's a smorgasbord of annoyingness.
Are there many redeeming features? Not many. Judah Lewis does ok in the lead role and his boyish good looks and affable charm will serve him well for the next few years. Jenny Ortega's fine too and it'll be interesting to see her in Radio Silence's upcoming Scream movie. The other cast members do what they can and deliver some suitably over-the-top performances. They seem fully invested at least. As mentioned previously, there are a couple of fun death scenes too.
There may well be those that enjoy the frivolous tone and hyperactive style and it's a film that certainly tries to deliver a fun time. However once you look beneath the flashy facade and the super good looking cast, you are just left with a poorly constructed and dumb rehash of the first movie that utterly fails to fulfil the promise of a clever, self-aware, modern film that the first movie largely delivered. The ending is a cop out too. McG has said that they will make a third if the appetite is there from audiences. Count us full up.