It is intriguing to witness the resemblance of a thought-provoking 16th-century Elizabethan tragedy and a contemporary 21st-century movie. Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus published in 1604, a story of an ‘intellectual’ man who in an attempt to know the unknown paved the path of his own damnation, was recently witnessed in a horror-comedy. Yes, I am talking about The Babysitter: Killer Queen released on 10th September 2020, a sequel to The Babysitter which was released on 13th October 2017. Rather than focusing the narrative of the entire movie on a single man similar to Faustus, McG has dispersed the Faustian attributes of pride, knowledge and materialism into a group of young individuals recognized as the ‘blood cult’ in the movie.
Both the play and The Babysitter: Killer Queen personate the dominating temptations to procure the materialistic power, a desire to transgress the boundaries and go beyond the natural order of things which eventually becomes the hamartia of the protagonist and leads to the eternal damnation of the entire cult. The initially lofty claims made by Faustus to attain something truly radical and path-breaking are in the later course transformed into immoral and unethical needs.
The trivial impulses of Faustus depicted by his mocking of the church, his pettiness in annoying the pope, and largely sporting with human lives by sneering their limitations while being ignorant of his own frailty, are further debased in the movie by portraying Allison’s desire to be coveted by men, Sonya’s aspiration to fulfil the expectations of the market ideals of beauty and Max wanting to conquer human lives.
In spite of the scholastic contrast between Faustus, a man of intellect and these naive college-going kids, they both fall under the socio-economic trap of worldly desires and trade their soul with the devil to gain power over the restrictions of their body and dominance over other human lives. This critiques a very sad reality of our society that irrespective of your experience or knowledge, the frustrations of a capitalistic world will lure you into an empty and destabilizing bargain, the one analogous to the Faustian pact.
The hilarious depiction of a tragedy in The Babysitter: Killer Queen appears to be borrowed from the trivial activities that Doctor Faustus engages in. The humour in the tragedy satirises the pettiness of the bond that they have signed. Allison’s wailing over her bullet stricken breast, Cole’s venture to escape Bee and the vulnerability of the entire cult in being tricked by a child draws a parallel to the Faustus’s conjuring of Helen’s apparition, his desires to mock the pope for his powerlessness in contention with him being ignorant of the fact that ultimately he will be the cursed one, tricking Benvolio by beheading himself and inducing the Horse-courser in a trifling negotiation.
The improvidence of Faustus is such that he is not able to realise the futility of showcasing his magic in various courts. Faustus with all the power at his disposal is not able to alter the system that already exists in material reality rather is reduced to be an entertainer in the king’s court. This is the actuality to which the ‘blood cult’ in the movie also succumbs to. They hysterically chase the ‘innocent’ and hedonistically sacrifice a gullible soul, only to meet the trivialities of the world while being ignorant of the slavery that they are subjected to.
The Biblical contrast between the guilty and innocent is very prominent in The Babysitter: Killer Queen. This representation becomes paradoxical because while using spiritual Christian ideologies they adhere to the commandments of the devil. There is also a reference to the religious idea of ‘original sin’ which ironically becomes Cole’s saviour in his battle against the ‘blood cult’.
Bee from The Babysitter: Killer Queen and Doctor Faustus discerns the supremacy of the angelic powers in the functioning of the world by the end of the tragedy. But due to the delayed acceptance of this truth, they have been robbed of their choices. When Bee uses her repentance to save the life of Cole and Phoebe if not herself, Doctor Faustus meets with a more threatening end where he is rendered impotent by his own hamartia.
The employment of Christian vocabulary by the end of the play and the death of John in the name of Jesus Christ establishes an impregnable dominance of the divine forces. The didacticism of the tragedy at this point becomes intelligible and instructs us that any transgression from the path of religion can certify your damnation.
Their death by the dismemberment of their bodies (similar to the speculations made of Faustus’s death) marks the demarcation of body and brain, depicting it to be a space for exercising basal needs. Both the play and The Babysitter: Killer Queen end on a similar note where the entire ‘blood cult’ felt as unsettled at the culmination of their bond as they had felt at the beginning.
Paradoxically the play despite being a tragedy gives space to the audience where they can critique and laugh at the trivial desires of Faustus and at the same time sympathize with his impotence in not being able to curb his path whereas The Babysitter: Killer Queen in spite of being a light-hearted horror comedy captures a very grim aspect in underlining the confines of the capitalistic world whose dissatisfactions can lead a person to inconceivable ends.
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