It’s safe to say that I’ve officially crossed over into “impressing myself” territory. Just a few short days ago, I was sharing how each year during Christmas time, I fail miserably at watching holiday-themed horror flicks. Now, here I am, on my third one in just as many days. For tonight’s viewing pleasure, I finally sat down with Chris Peckover’s Better Watch Out.
It’s Christmas time and before leaving for Pittsburgh, Ashley is persuaded to babysit Luke one last time. Luke is determined to let Ashley know his true feelings, but once those feelings aren’t returned, he decides it’s time for plan b. Plan b just happens to be to tie the babysitter up and torment her until his parents return home.
Although this film has been out for quite some time now, I never really heard anything about it. Sure, I saw people posting on social media that they had seen it. I never read any real details about it though. Needless to say, I went into it blind and I’m glad that I did.
Better Watch Out starts out as what seems to be a typical home invasion movie. We quickly realize, however, that there is much more to this story than just your typical ‘break-in’ horror. Twelve-year-old Luke, played brilliantly by Levi Miller, has been planning something very sinister for quite some time now.
Miller’s character takes his unrequited crush of his older babysitter, Ashley, portrayed by Olivia DeJonge (The Visit), to a dark place of vengeance pretty quickly. Never before have I seen someone so young do the things that Luke did in this film. Yes, we’ve seen creepy kids in horror films before, but this, to me, is on a whole new level. It isn’t even what he does necessarily, but his reaction to the heinous acts that really makes it so effective.
Levi Miller isn’t the only impressive performer here. He is joined by an extremely talented cast, all of whom do wonderfully throughout the film’s 89 minutes. Olivia DeJonge and her The Visit co-star, Ed Oxenbould, are perfect additions to the goings-on in the Lerner household. Oxenbould, as Luke’s best friend, Garrett, starts off by just playing along with Luke’s little game, but soon realizes things have gotten out of hand. I loved Oxenbould when I saw him in Shyamalan’s film and I really enjoyed him here, too.
Better Watch Out also features other familiar faces — Virginia Madsen (Candyman), Patrick Warburton (TV’s “Seinfeld”), and Dacre Montgomery (Netflix original “Stranger Things”) — all have roles in this twisted little Christmas tale.
While this film has a way higher budget than, I’d say, both of the previous films I’ve reviewed combined, it still managed to shy away from any real big spending on special effects. Director Chris Peckover was able to execute some pretty gruesome kills without being overly gory. I’ve watched some pretty vicious movies, especially recently, but some of the death scenes in this one really made me uneasy. Again, it all comes down to execution.
Better Watch Out is a way different film from what I was expecting. I knew I wasn’t going to get another ‘killer in a Santa suit’ slasher, but I didn’t quite expect what I got. The story is as original as any that I can recall, features a tremendously talented cast, and has some of the most brutal off-screen deaths I’ve seen on film.
It is a good Christmas movie to throw on when you want to take a break from the classics or any of the newer low-budget ones coming out each year. All of these positives and a few more are the reason I give this one 4 yellow paint buckets out of 5.