Synopsis – Two years after Cole survived a satanic blood cult, he’s living another nightmare: high school. And the demons from his past? Still making his life hell.
My Take – Personally I have always enjoyed horror films filled with campy tones, hence it didn’t come as a surprise that I was left thoroughly entertained with director McG‘s 2017 Netflix horror-comedy, The Babysitter, which with its fun premise, great performances and crowd-pleasing thrills, managed to garner excellent response at the time of its release in the streaming world, and most importantly succeeded in putting rising scream queen Samara Weaving on the map.
In fact, that it got a sequel at all is quite a testament to how well-received the film was, as sequels aren’t all too common in the Netflix Original film library, unless of course you are mushy romantic comedy.
Hence with director McG returning along with most of the cast, the sequel had an uphill battle to please returning fans especially, thankfully, I’m delighted to say that the film manages to follow in the same vein, as it impressively builds upon the story established last time out.
Sure, it misses out on some of the strengths of its predecessor, like Samara Weaving‘s excellent performance, however, the returning cast more than makes up for the gap, making this sophomore installment a hit throughout, as it is as bloodier, campier and funnier than the film that started it all.
Set two years after the events of the first film, the story once again follows Cole (Judah Lewis), who is now a junior in high school but is still dealing with the trauma of that particularly horrific night. Making things worse for him is the fact that no believes that his babysitter, Bee (Samara Weaving), was a part of a satanic cult, and tried to kill him, including his parents (Ken Marino and Leslie Bibb).
Leaving Melanie (Emily Alyn Lind), his neighbor and best friend, on whom he has been crushing for some time now, being the only one who seems to be not questioning his sanity. And upon finding out that his parents plan on transferring him to a psychiatric high school, Cole ditches school with Melanie for a party at a lake in the hopes of her reciprocating his feelings.
But, what he didn’t plan was to once again finding himself becoming the target of Allison (Bella Thorne), Max (Robbie Amell), Sonya (Hana Mae Lee), and John (Andrew Bachelor), who have returned from the dead to complete the ritual, and have new members to assist them along. This time, however, Cole isn’t battling them all alone, as he is forced to team up with Phoebe (Jenna Ortega), the new girl in town, who also becomes a target when she accidentally walks in on the cult’s first kill on the night.
As most sequels go, this one too builds upon the foundation that 2017 film laid out the first time around, bread crumbing information from the past to pave the way to a fast and furious future. And once the background is out of the way, director McG takes everything that made the first film ridiculously fun and turns it up to 100. I’d go so far as to say it supersedes the original, at least when it comes to blood, gore, and perfectly timed film references.
It’s somehow even more high-energy than the first film, and is undeniably fun and pacey in a really enjoyable way. This is not a film that could ever be accused of being dull as there’s barely a moment without a splash of gore, a bawdy joke or a big dramatic action scene.
The first film was a flawed but entertaining comedy slasher that I thought was enjoyable for the most part, but never thought it balanced its horror elements and comedic elements as well as it could’ve. But here any pretense at horror is pretty much abandoned from the outset and this time around the film the film is a dark comedy that while it does contain the gore and violence of the original never makes any attempt to be scary.
That said, the humor is still very much on point and has actually been refined since the previous outing flowing more smoothly and creating a better sense of comic rhythm with proper setups and payoffs some of which had me laughing to the point of tears in my eyes.
The film’s final act is a particular treat, as it brings together all the weird fantasy lore that these two films have unexpectedly built up and puts a clever and surprisingly touching twist on it. It’s not a work of genius, but it is a really satisfying ending to two thoroughly enjoyable films, capping off the pair with a good sense of humor and imagination.
But there are a few things missing. Most importantly, Samara Weaving, though she does appear in a considerably smaller role here, she was as a big part of the first film’s energy, as Cole and Bee’s relationship is what held the first film together. Their friendship was adorable, and even though she and her friends were hunting poor Cole, you could tell she cared for him.
In the sequel, Cole is older, so the story line’s innovativeness is lost already. Even though there’s just as much death and satanic panic, there’s just a bit less at stake here and it’s lost some of the surprise intrigue that hit us first time around.
It is also fair to say that this sequel doesn’t use its setting to a strong effect like the first film, getting lost in a fairly soulless desert setting compared to the terrifying landscape of Cole’s house being destroyed over one night. And while the jokes and wildness and outrageous kills are still entertaining, there are some style choices that have a tendency to feel a bit overdone and like filler in lieu of any advance of the story line.
However it does deserve appreciation for bringing Phoebe into the mix, who happened to be not just Cole’s love interest, but also added on to backstory of the original film.
However, the cast especially the returning ones are all up to the task. Judah Lewis continues to make for an excellent lead, Emily Alyn Lind expands upon her devilishness glimpsed previously in the wholly underrated film, Doctor Sleep, and Jenna Ortega (You) continues to make a case for how strong and fun the young actress is, Robbie Amell is once again hilarious as the shirtless menace, Bella Thorne too continues her amusing over-the-top mean streak, and thankfully growing comic talent Judah Lewis gets to display more of his skills, however Hana Mae Lee gets the shortest end of the stick here.
In other roles, Leslie Bibb, Ken Marino, Chris Wylde, Carl McDowell, Maximilian Acevedo, Juliocesar Chavez and Jennifer Foster are also good. In a smaller role, Samara Weaving doesn’t get much of a scope to leave a mark. On the whole, ‘The Babysitter: Killer Queen’ is a fun horror-comedy sequel that surprisingly builds upon its predecessor to entertaining ends.
Directed – McG
Rated – R
Run Time – 101 minutes