Better Watch Out Movie Review
Christmas and horror go together like honey and milk, a potent mix of yuletide cheeriness and terror that is shockingly gratifying when done right. When done right. Better Watch Out is the latest horror-thriller to try to bring down the holiday spirit, but where it succeeds in concept it fails in execution.
Better Watch Out is about a cute babysitter (Olivia DeJonge) and a horny 12-year-old boy (Levi Miller) who find themselves trapped in his house when an intruder decides to terrorize them. Of course, if you watch the trailer you’ll get the hint that this description is actually quite misleading.
Thankfully, I hadn’t watched the trailer before watching the movie – I found it on FandangoNOW and just decided to give it a whirl – which means that the movie’s one saving grace was a full surprise. Without the trailer more or less spoiling what happens, Better Watch Out has a decent twist that flips the film on its side and gives the story a slight bit of uniqueness.
Like many horror movies such as this, Better Watch Out is mildly entertaining and marginally worthwhile, but unfortunately director Chris Peckover doesn’t quite get the audience to the mistletoe. For as fucked up as the concept is, the execution is merely ho-ho-ho-hum.
In short: a lot of potential is left in the stocking.
Olivia DeJonge does a fine job as the lead protagonist; she quickly wins you over and has you cheering for her survival throughout. Levi Miller, on the other hand, is decent, but isn’t quite up to the task asked of him—and given how critical his role is, the filmmakers needed to do more to help him thrive.
But in the end, Better Watch Out isn’t as twisted as it should be. Marketed as a horror-comedy, it is neither funny enough nor disturbing enough to be much of anything. Peckover, who co-wrote the film with Zack Kahn, needed to notch up the ridiculous cheeriness of the holiday season (its tie-in to Christmas is weak, at best) and contrast it with more extreme gore or fucked-up situations. Instead, no single moment stands out in any way or form.
Better Watch Out isn’t terrible, but it could have been a lot better. Shop for something else this holiday season.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.