Better Watch Out (2016)

better watch out poster 2016 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Fun, light horror Christmas movie

Some might not like the tonal changes throughout the movie

Movie Info

Movie Name: Better Watch Out

Studio: Storm Vision Entertainment

Genre(s): Horror/Comedy/Seasonal

Release Date(s):  September 22, 2016 (Fantastic Fest)/October 6, 2017 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

better watch out home invasion levi miller olivia dejonge

The children were nestled all snug behind the door…while a killer with a shotgun patrolled the halls

Christmas is coming, and Luke Lerner (Levi Miller) is losing his favorite babysitter Ashley (Olivia DeJonge).  Ashley’s family is moving and this is Luke’s last chance to reveal his feelings for Ashley once and win her heart once and for all despite their five year age difference.  Getting rid of his friend Garrett (Ed Oxenbould) and with his parents (Patrick Warburton and Virginia Madsen) out for the night, this could be Luke’s big chance…but when someone invades the house, Ashley realizes she must protect Luke as they fight for their lives.

Directed by Chris Peckover (who helped write the screenplay with story creator Zack Kahn), Better Watch Out is a horror-holiday comedy.  Originally titled Safe Neighborhood, the film was an Australian made film which premiered at Fantastic Fest to positive reviews.

Better Watch Out was recommended to me by my sister around holiday time.  I love horror, and I love holiday horror even more.  Better Watch Out keeps a fun tone throughout and provides enough horror and “holiday cheer” to put it with other holiday horror films like Gremlins or Krampus.  Due to the plot, a ******spoiler alert****** is in effect for the rest of the review.

better watch out olivia dejonge

It’s all fun and games until someone shoots their eye out!

The movie starts out like a typical horror set-up.  The babysitter is alone and begins to get mysterious calls.  Someone seems to be prowling outside.  Threats are made.  Then everything goes sideways.  Shortly into the film, it is revealed that this was all a plan by Luke (with his friend Garrett) to bring Luke and Ashley closer together.  Luke has other plans and it quickly turns into a combination of Funny Games and Home Alone as Luke and Garrett get deeper and deeper into the situation as the blood begins to fly.  It all wraps up in a rather satisfactory ending that still keeps the fun.

Olivia DeJonge does a good job as the lead actor, but she is often overshadowed by the psychotic Luke played by Levi Miller who gets such glee from his crimes (but still manages to be a kid at heart who is worried about getting caught with weed or stepping on the new carpet).  Olivia is rejoined by her cast mate Ed Oxenbould who played her brother in The Visit and also has a lot of fun as the “plus one” killer friend of Luke.  It is unfortunate that the script didn’t have more room for Patrick Warburten and Virginia Madsen as the parents but it chooses to keep it tight and vicious (it is also notable that Madsen and Warburten are the only American stars of the movie with everyone else being Australian…and covering their accents quite well).

better watch out levi miller olivia dejonge

You’re my favorite babysitter ever!

The movie looks good.  It has the holiday glow that a horror movie needs, but the tone of the movie often matches the goofiness of Home Alone with people creeping around, spiders, and of course flying paint cans (which disproves the irritating Home Alone physics).  It is cleverly cut and edited to keep the movie going and many of the expectations set-up by the physical locations of the film are reversed when they come up in the script.

Better Watch Out is a good addition to the horror holiday line up.  It has enough gore, murder, and mayhem to be considered a horror movie, but the overall tone is black comedy.  From the beginning to the middle finger ending, the movie is what you might need to get through the holidays, and it is worth “putting under the tree”.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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