In need of a laugh and looking for a Tarantino knockoff with a B-list cast? Look no further than “The Babysitter: Killer Queen,” released last Thursday on Netflix. This film is a sequel to Netflix’s 2017 film “The Babysitter.” At the time of writing this, “Killer Queen” is #3 in the US on Netflix, but it peaked at #1.
I pressed play with no intention of liking this movie. In fact, I was fairly certain that I’d have nothing but criticism for a cheesy, gory horror-comedy. And oh, is it cheesy. But I find myself eager to overlook the film’s many faults, and to appreciate the puerile one-liners for what they are: simple entertainment.
In 2017’s “The Babysitter,” Cole’s (Judah Lewis, “Demolition”) parents go out for the night, leaving him with Bee (Samara Weaving, “Guns Akimbo”), his babysitter and the apple of his eye. After Bee thinks Cole has gone to sleep, she invites some friends over for good old-fashioned fun. One thing leads to another and (spoiler) Bee’s friends turn out to be members of a cult, having all made various deals with the devil. There is a ritual to be performed, and the young satanists need Cole’s blood! But Cole doesn’t plan to go down without a fight. With the help of his best friend and love interest Melanie (Emily Alyn Lind, “Doctor Sleep”), Cole emerges victorious and has his first kiss (thanks, Melanie!). The unfortunate part? Satan’s intercession involves an obstruction of justice and the destruction of evidence. In short, Cole’s parents don’t buy the “Satanic cult” story, and instead think their kid is delusional.
This brings us to 2020’s “Killer Queen.” Two years later, Cole is afflicted by flashbacks and an overactive imagination. There’s a new girl at school, enigmatic Phoebe (Jenna Ortenga, “Saving Flora”), destined to wind up involved in Cole’s predicament. Cole’s parents make him take pills, which don’t seem to help, and have resolved to send him off to a psychiatric high school. But once again, Cole lives by his own rules. Ditching school to party at “the Lake” with Melanie and her crew is certainly out of character for the shy and sharply dressed Cole, but his feelings for Melanie have him convinced that what he needs is to let loose. Needless to say, the party boat quickly becomes a crime scene, and Cole must fight his demons once again, now with Phoebe’s help.
This movie is fun. Yes, the characters are awfully shallow, and bodily fluids are sprayed with excessive force and frequency. And yet, I found myself engrossed. The incorporation of text, flashbacks and martial-arts battle between the two leading women all have a distinctly Tarantino flair. That is, if Tarantino was a 14-year-old boy. Astonishingly, the film is not without social critique, either; it seems these hellions are all seeking internet fame (which is ironic, given Alexander Bachelor, aka King Bach’s, leading role and Amanda Cerny’s cameo). The viewer is left with several clichéd aphorisms, the most relevant of which being “shortcuts don’t pay off.” In other words, earn your fame, don’t buy it from Satan. Perhaps the most off-putting and unnecessary element of this film is the euphemistic montage, meant to represent Cole and Phoebe’s tryst, set to The Sugarhill Gang’s “Apache.”
Between pithy criticisms of influencer culture and seismic spurts of blood, this flick is funny. Bad acting and moderate ableism aside, director McG gets a lot right. If only because it does not take itself seriously, it’s best if the viewer doesn’t take this film seriously either. Perfectly mindless, funny enough and engaging — “The Babysitter: Killer Queen” entertains. When you next find yourself with a free evening, turn your brain off for a while and watch “Killer Queen.” I can’t say you won’t be disappointed, but I’m pretty sure it’ll make you grin.