09th Oct2017

Grimmfest 2017: ‘Better Watch Out’ & ‘Double Date’ Review

by Phil Wheat


Stars: Virginia Madsen, Patrick Warburton, Olivia DeJonge, Dacre Montgomery, Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould, Aleks Mikic | Written by Zack Kahn, Chris Peckover | Directed by Chris Peckover


On a quiet suburban street tucked within a ‘safe neighbourhood’, Ashley has turned up to babysit 12-year-old Luke for the evening while his parents are out for a Christmas party night. Ashley is Luke’s favourite babysitter and he’s looking forward to spending time with her again. Suddenly a brick crashes through the window reading ‘U Leave, U Die’ and they hear someone sneaking around the house upstairs…

Where to begin with Better Watch Out? A film that starts as your typical, cliched seasonal slasher: two teens trapped in a house by a madman outside, who eventually breaks in to terrorise his victims. If the film had stuck with that story it would have been, judging by what we saw, an OK entry in the small pantheon of Christmas-based slashers. However there’s a MASSIVE twist part way through the movie, as the “killer” is revealed, which takes the film into distinctly darker and more disturbing place, becoming a whole other, horrific, beast.

Of course to reveal what that twist entails would spoil the enjoyment of what is a dark, disturbing horror that shoehorns in remarkable references to Home Alone‘s home invasion plot, of which this film could be say to borrow some ideas: including a stunningly grisly recreation of one of that films most ridiculous gags! What really sells Better Watch Out‘s plot is the cast – Olivia DeJonge, as Ashley, is a plucky heroine, who stands strong again her attackers and – eventually – get the upper hand; essentially she’s a modern-day final girl, if said girl rejected the usual horror stereotypes! Meanwhile Levi Miller and Ed Oxenbould, as Ashley’s charges are much more than your typicla horny teens, even if that’s how they start out! And whilst the duo may seem sweet and nice, when it comes to the crunch, when they need to be, they are as difficult, if not moreso, as teenagers can be.

Every now again there comes a film that subverts genre tropes, bringing a fresh perspective on the stereotypes and cliches that – as fans – we have come to know, and in most cases love. Better Watch Out it one such film. It might not benefit from repeated viewing, but for that first – unknowing – watch, this is a perfect lesson in how to shock and surprise. Like all horror film should!

**** 4/5


Stars: Michael Socha, Georgia Groome, Danny Morgan, Kelly Wenham, Dougie Poynter | Written by Danny Morgan | Directed by Benjamin Barfoot


Meet innocent Jim, terrified of girls and on a reluctant quest to prove his manhood the night before he turns 30. He and his cocky friend Alex think they’ve hit the jackpot when they meet the beautiful sisters Kitty and Lulu, who seem up for anything on a wild party-fuelled night. They also have an incredible car. But little do they know that the feisty femmes fatales have their own shocking agenda in mind and have every intention of making Jim lose much more than just his virginity… Getting laid has never been so bloody difficult.

A British horror comedy, about a loudmouth wideboy trying to get his shy mate laid will, for many, not sound like an invitation for a good time. After all there’s been a myriad of so-called “British horror comedies” dealing with a heady mix of sex and horror in the past that have fallen waaay shy of the mark (Lesbian Vampire Killers anyone?). However Double Date is different. Very different. Thanks to a script, and some fantastic improvisation, that adds a much-needed emotional depth to the story; and a cast that make the most of what they’re given, really bringing the characters and situations to life in a very real, very funny, yet sweet, way.

But the big selling point for this film, besides the fantastic performances, is the action. For a horror movie, Double Date features one of the best knock-down, drag-out fights in modern cinema. And I’m including a myriad of action movies in that statement too… Michael Socha and Kelly Wenham put on one hell of a brutal fight, and one that is also surprisingly funny. Very funny. Yet disturbingly brutal. Michael Socha steals every scene he’s in, including this one, his banter tops off what is a stunning battle. And most surprising? Actress Kelly Wenham was trained specifically in kickboxing for this film – from how she performs here, you think she’d been doing it for years!

With a finale that really brings the true horror aspects of this story to light, Double Date is one of those rare beasts – a horror comedy that mixes both genres to perfection. And the fact that it’s British? Makes that even more astonishing!

***** 5/5


Comments are closed.