Ashley is 17 and is about to move to Pittsburgh after Christmas. However, before the Holidays she is babysitting for Luke Lerner, who has a crush on Ashley, for one last time. What would have been a simple babysitting job quickly spirals down into a chaotic, murderous mess as there appears to be a home invasion by a gang of burglars.
Better Watch Out is going to be a hard film to talk about. Mainly because of its twist. I went into this film with very little prior knowledge to what the film was about. I knew that it was a home invasion horror comedy with elements of Home Alone thrown in for good measure, but I had not idea about the true plot of the film. I can see that it is revealed in marketing and other reviews, but for those who don’t know the twist, I will avoid it because I feel that it makes the film all the more entertaining.
Right from the font that it uses in the open credits, it is reminiscent of Silent Night (another Christmas slasher movie). With references like that, as well as the previously mentioned Home Alone, which settles a hotly debated issue once and for all, Better Watch Out knits itself so entirely into the iconography of Christmas films and Christmas horror films that this might become a new classic. It has a delightfully hateful villain and a plot that steadily ramps up as the situation begins to get more out of hand and crazy. It is this plot that makes the film incredibly interesting, as the increasing violence forces some great character conflict and there are some really great moments from our main players just bouncing off of each other. For instance, the most iconic image of the film will probably be the paint can scene, while the final mad dash at the end is slightly reminiscent of the end race to Ferris Buller’s Day Off.
What is truly impressive is that at the center of the madness are a small cast of charismatic leads, all under the age of 20. Olivia DeJonge, best known for her role in M.Night Shyamalan’s the Visit, is a perfect lead, a real person you will to survive the night. Similarly, Levi Miller, who played Peter Pan in 2015’s Pan, despite his young age draws on something that makes him a star to look out for. These two leads are backed up by a solid third performance from another Visit star, Ed Oxenbould, as the sort of comic relief and the “sort-of” bad influence Garret.
Now it’s not perfect: the comedy may fall flat for some people, and it’s not likely to scare any hard-core horror fans. That is the problem with blending these two opposing genres, there is going to be some sacrifice and compromise if you aren’t on top of your game. Despite this though, it is still a solid attempt to blend the horror comedy with enough chuckles and jumps to keep the average cinema goer entertained. Many critics have said that there may be a hint of spit in the film. This may depend on your torrelance for violence involving children. However, due to the performances and colour pallet, Better Watch Out seems to be a fun ride and the actors are clearly having a blast as well. One of the slightly smaller twists is also easy to spot, though that might be on purpose to distract.
But despite these issues, Better Watch Out joins the ranks of fun twisted tales that can serve as an antidote of sorts to the more traditional Christmas film, thanks to a great premise and twist and some fantastic performances from our young leads. So if you’re looking for something bitter to offset the sweet, then Better Watch Out has it.
You can watch Better Watch Out in cinema’s now