“These go to eleven!” The infamous punchline uttered by Christopher Guest’s Nigel Tufnel in eighties classic This Is Spinal Tap signifies one thing and one thing only: push it to the max! It’s a stylistic manifesto which director McG has embodied throughout his 20-year filmmaking career and things look unlikely to change with his latest release, The Babysitter: Killer Queen.
A follow up to 2017’s The Babysitter, a similarly OTT teen horror-comedy romp, Killer Queen finds Cole (Judah Lewis) two years on, struggling to both come to terms with the violence/trauma experienced in the original film as well as having the majority of people in his life not believe his story; a Satanic blood pact with unsuspecting victims? Don’t be silly, Cole! His only rock is best friend/possible crush Melanie (Emily Alyn Lind, most recently seen as Snakebite Andi in the magnificent Doctor Sleep) who also witnessed some of the outrageous goings-on that night and might just be the key to keeping Cole safe. Alas, things going to plan is not on the menu and we dive headfirst back into the world of demonic cults, murder, and undead psychopaths. It’s a lot.
Fans of the original will take quite easily to the derivative-yet-disorganised style present here as punchlines precede personality. Text flies onto the screen in a variety of colours and fonts while the soundtrack plays like a Now That’s What I Call Classic Rock mixtape; it’s abundantly clear from the get-go that McG answered to nobody when deciding what goes into this picture. In terms of plot, style and character we are on exactly the same ground as the previous movie and that is the biggest, most egregious flaw – after 101 minutes The Babysitter: Killer Queen offers nothing to justify its existence or offer any reason why an audience should tune in instead of revisiting the superior original.
Our merry band of maniacs who return from beyond the grave include Bella Thorne as Allison in a role she’s not so much born to play as unable to escape from; hot, vapid and utterly annoying – but this time their leader is nowhere to be seen: the titular babysitter, Bee (Samara Weaving). It’s an idiotic misstep and one can’t help but feel the Australian might have had a hand in such a decision. Remember when Halloween dropped Michael Myers for Season of the Witch? It’s called The Babysitter goddamn it!
With McG teasing the possibility of a third chapter to come, 2020 begins to creep deeper and deeper into the pits of despair. Horror cinema finds its biggest hitters – A Quiet Place, Saw, The Conjuring, Candyman – all delaying their latest offerings, leaving blood-thirsty fans to roam aimlessly around on streaming services and see what they can come up with. Sadly this is it. Following the classic slasher sequel formula of “same again, but less interesting”, The Babysitter: Killer Queen manages to churn out a plot with some gore and some jokes. But it never repulses nor sparks as you want it to. Give it a miss, or – if you must – pretend it’s 2017 and rewatch the first one. Better, simpler times.
Available to stream on Netflix now