There’s unfortunately no other way to say it: The Babysitter: Killer Queen, director McG’s follow-up to his 2017 Netflix horror-comedy surprise hit, is terrible. Bloody terrible, if you want to be more appropriate to this gory failure. As much as I enjoyed the hell out of the first film – which saw nerdy pre-teen Cole (Judah Lewis) discover that his super-cool babysitter Bee (Samara Weaving) is actually the leader of a satanic cult who wants to drain his veins in a blood ritual – this frantic trying-too-hard sequel proves that 2020 is out to ruin everything you love.
Set two years after the events of The Babysitter, Killer Queen finds Cole as a three-piece suit-wearing high school outcast whose only friend is Melanie (Emily Alyn Lind), his cute neighbour from the first film who seemingly still has a crush on him despite now also boasting a meathead boyfriend of her own. Cole’s status as social pariah stems from the fact that after killing Bee and her band of douchebag cultists in self-defence, all their bodies and the gory evidence of their actions had mysteriously disappeared, leaving everybody to think that Cole just made it all up.
Even his embarrassingly goofy parents (Leslie Bibb and Ken Marino) don’t believe him and are even considering sending him to a special psychiatric academy. When the nebbish Cole finds out about their plans though, he decides to take Melanie up on her rebellious offer to ditch school and instead spend a night partying at the local lake with her friends.
But what is supposed to be Cole letting off some steam, turns into another orgy of violence when the old blood cult – perennially shirtless Max (Robbie Amell), ditzy airhead Allison (Bella Thorne), fast-talking John (Andrew Bachelor), and creepy weirdo Sonya (Hana Mae Lee) – somehow return from the dead, with some new cult recruits in tow. Tough cookie new student Phoebe (Jenna Ortega), who has her own mysterious reasons be at the lake, is dragged into Cole’s recurring nightmare when she stumbles into the whole bloody affair. Cue lots of running and screaming and people dying in literal volcanic eruptions of crimson viscera.
The ludicrous amount of blood on display is highly laughable, which is actually to the benefit of The Babysitter: Killer Queen as you will be hard-pressed to actually find anything else to laugh at. Gone is the clever wit of the original, replaced by the lowest of low-brow humour. Instead of taking the piss out of genre conventions like the first film, there are literal jokes about taking a piss. Yuk yuk. And every character you meet, no matter how fleeting their screen time, has seemingly had their normal human dialogue replaced by a sewer-pipe-flow of punchlines to jokes that either fall horribly flat or which we’re just not in on.
Original screenwriter Brian Duffield, who tempered director McG’s more egregiously over-the-top tendencies with oodles of heart and charm in the first film, is no longer involved and it’s excruciatingly obvious. The combined result is that Killer Queen, co-written by McG and three other writers, is paradoxically a study in both phone-it-in creative laziness and the perils of bombastic sequel excesses.
Story beats, gags, and even character wardrobes are copied straight from its predecessor, oftentimes spoiling any surprise or enjoyment as we know exactly where things are going. But then the film goes into some really unexpected places as well, which, in hindsight, I would prefer to not have visited. Instead of a standard hand-to-hand tussle between two characters, the scene is turned into a video game complete with life meters and fireball special moves. Instead of an awkwardly cute teenage sex scene, we get montages of vienna sausages slipping into hot dog buns. There are song and dance numbers, pointless homages to old movies, flashback montages, and more. The list just goes on and on, gimmicks and gags just lumped on top of each other with random abandonment.
And you can’t even really rely on the cast to carry you through as they range from the narcoleptic to the painfully annoying. Judah Lewis’s Cole, so precociously likeable in the first film, sits somewhere in the middle on that scale. Others, like Melanie’s stoner dad Juan (Chris Wylde) who cares more for his fiery TransAm than his daughter, go off the deep end almost immediately as they ride a single tired gag into oblivion.
If there’s a saving grace is that some of the film’s previously mentioned gory deaths can be ridiculous enough to be fun. Leslie Bibb and Ken Marino also have some genuinely great beats, even if they’re not given much to do, and Robbie Amell’s bro-tastic jibes are brilliant (not to mention one hilariously perfect shirtless flashback). Then there’s the film’s fantastic soundtrack of classic rock tracks, including its titular Queen banger. Just why the movie is actually called Killer Queen though, is never once explained. In fact, there’s a lot of the script that is just straight-up head-scratching, including the entire idea that nobody believed Cole when this happened the first time (Bee and her troupe slaughtered police officers as well, who just went missing). When the big reveal eventually shows up as to why and how this is happening again, it arrives with a resounding, convoluted “Huh?!”
That’s the same response I’ve now also got to the fact that McG has plans for a third film in the series (which, unsurprisingly, is teased in the film’s post-credits stinger if you stay around long enough to see it). If this proposed threequel follows the downward spiral of creative quality that gave us The Babysitter: Killer Queen, then I would rather a satanic cult just bled me dry right now.
Last Updated: September 15, 2020