“The Babysitter: Killer Queen” is a playful tribute to the slasher genre

Photo courtesy of Public Domain, Wikipedia

There is no denying that Netflix’s 2017 film “The Babysitter” was far from a perfect movie. Much like its young protagonist Cole, the film seemed uncertain as to just how grown-up it was prepared or allowed to be. In a horror/comedy that sees Cole embark on a night of terror after an attempt to spy on his babysitter goes horrifically wrong, the film seemed intent on playfully teasing the slashers, comedies and coming-of-age films that it took inspiration from.

“Home Alone” is referenced both visually and verbally, yet the film never seems to hit the same levels of chaos the classic holiday film does. "The Babysitter" tiptoed near the gruesome deaths of the slashers that came before it, yet only indulging itself once or twice, leaving most of the deaths rather unextraordinary. Just as Cole wants to enjoy his remaining childhood while simultaneously wanting to be treated with respect, the film itself also wanted to have its fun while being palatable to most audiences.

“The Babysitter” does some things right. The film is stylistic and visually appealing, clearly crafted with care. The leads of the film, Judah Lewis and Samara Weaving, give exceptional performances. However, the film's self-restraint impeds it, leaving it enjoyable yet capable of something more.

I would have expected its recently released sequel, “The Babysitter: Killer Queen” to fall victim to the same awkward hesitance, but I was pleasantly surprised.

“Killer Queen” has none of the restraints of the first film and is all the better for it. Picking up two years after the first film, “Killer Queen” quickly proves that the franchise has grown into itself. It knows what it is as a movie and demands that you either take it or leave it, and any longtime fan of the horror genre would be remiss to leave it.

The film brings the audience into the less-than-stellar high school life of Cole. Despite being left with intense lessons learned from the violence he witnessed as a child, Cole has not changed much. He still finds himself the butt of his peers' jokes, struggling to stand out positively, and is now burdened with trauma-induced anxiety. The arrival of a new transfer student and an invitation to a party on a nearby lake seems destined to change everything for Cole.

"Killer Queen" drags both Cole and the audience on a bloody, outrageous adventure that leaves all involved constantly asking themselves what exactly just happened.

Unrestrained and ready to dive headfirst into referential chaos, “Killer Queen” brings with it every single thing that the original did right and ramps it up to ten. The humor has changed only in its consistency and preparedness to laugh both at itself and the films it pays homage to.

The surprisingly beautiful visuals are present here, too, and the stylized freeze-frames that popped up once or twice in “The Babysitter” are much more frequent and distinctive than before. Fans of gore will be pleased to see just how unique and bloody most deaths are. If “Killer Queen” does anything that would make its slasher predecessors proud, it is the shocking deaths.

The film has a few new tricks up its sleeve as well. The soundtrack is outstanding, filled with nostalgic hits from the eighties and nineties. The set design leaves every setting a feast for the eyes, and generational humor ensures that everyone from Gen X to Gen Z will find something to identify with or laugh at.

Bursting into the scene feeling much like the wilder, uninhibited younger sibling of the horror film “Cabin in the Woods,” “The Babysitter: Killer Queen” is a must-see for anyone ready to laugh at the horror genre.

 

4/5 stars

kconcert@ramapo.edu