I was a huge fan of “The Babysitter” when it debuted on Netflix three years ago and it pains me to say that while the original was an unexpected delight, this belated follow-up is an unlooked-for disappointment.

Years on from the events of the first movie, Cole (Judah Lewis) is still traumatised by the events of that horrific night. The trouble is, nobody really believes him because no bodies were found at the scene and his parents are starting to believe he’s losing his mind, as does the school nurse/ counsellor. When his only friend Melanie (Emily Alyn Lind) invites him to join her on a weekend trip to the lake it provides a welcome distraction. Until that is, Cole finds himself trapped once again with cult members old and new.

Although the sequel opts to bring virtually everyone back from the first movie (whether it makes narrative sense or not) it doesn’t really seem to have any idea why, nor do many of the characters. There’s a desperate self-consciousness to the whole thing, and an overabundance of energetic overcompensation. The film is desperate for your approval, even affection and every single character seems to believe that its them you’ve been waiting to see. There’s so much relentless gimmickry and schtick from all sides that it becomes exhausting.

The cute stylistic flourishes from the first movie are frenetically overused in the first half of the movie jostling for space amongst all the pop culture and movie references crammed into a script that reads like it was composed by an ADD AI which was force fed thousands of hours MTV reality shows.

Whereas the first movie was a darkly comic, twisted Halloween take on “Home Alone”, this sequel takes a deliberate and dumb step into the explicitly supernatural, immediately losing its edge as it does so. The first one worked because underpinning it all was the idea these were a bunch of teenagers who’d convinced themselves they’d made a deal with the devil only to be beaten (to death) by a snot-nosed kid. Making it all real just feels stupid, in keeping with this sequel’s mindless, directionless storytelling. The many things it retreads it diminishes, most of the new things it adds devalue it further. The eminently watchable cast, and the first movie, deserved much better than this.

It’s still adequate Halloween entertainment but it’s not a patch on the original which boasted better performances, a tighter script – and far fewer shoddy special effects and truly terrible wigs.

5/10

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