In the mood for a Christmas horror movie with lots of blood, creepy children and unidimensional characters? If so, Better Watch Out is just the ticket.
Home Alone Gone to Hell
Let’s cut to the chase: this movie is vile right from the get-go. Enter 12-year-olds Luke (Levi Miller, A Wrinkle in Time) and Garret (Ed Oxenbould, The Visit), trying to figure out how to win a girl over. Ultimately, they decide fear is the best way to the heart of Luke’s babysitter Ashley (Olivia DeJonge, The Visit). She is a young woman who is about to move Pittsburg to start her new life, and is spending her last night home babysitting Luke. He tries to impress her with drinking champagne, scaring her and asking insulting questions about her boyfriend Ricky (Aleks Mikic, Preacher) and ex-boyfriend Jeremy (Dacre Montgomery, Stranger Things). And epically fails.
There comes a point when, knowing well that Ashley is not interested, he makes advances and tries to kiss her. He only stops after she says “no” several times. She handles it a lot nicer than he deserves, and tries to set things back to normal. But all of that immediately gets interrupted when someone breaks into the house.
If you want to watch the movie and you’d like to avoid all spoilers at any cost, do NOT watch the trailer. It gives away the twist, which is perhaps the most enjoyable and disturbing part of the whole film. However, if you don’t care about spoilers, have at it:
Better Not Die…
Director Chris Peckover and writer Zack Kahn know how to build tension and maximize shock factor. They do this well enough that it’s easy to forget how the story centers around the theme of “getting away with murder” so much that it lacks any nuance and character development.
And yes, you are going to see Home Alone references. At this point in time it’s just natural with the territory. We’re talking about a low-budget 90-minute home invasion Christmas movie. Try not to go in expecting Oscar worthy screenwriting.
The cast is good at acting scared, great at acting funny, best at acting disturbed. In one scene the killer visually compartmentalizes the horrific act they just did, which is fascinating to watch. The premise has a lot of potential and it’s shot wonderfully – the angles tell another story all on their own. But the predatory characters and cringeworthy dialogue muddy all those good parts.
Better Watch Out is not everything it could have been. And yet, it won’t the worst movie to see this time of year, especially if you enjoy spreading holiday jeer.(2.5 / 5)
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