20th Apr2018

‘Better Watch Out’ Blu-ray 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


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