Christmas is a Horror Show of its Own
It would not be far-fetched to say Christmas is a horror show of its own. Kids are oddly well-behaved all of a sudden, crime and robbery is at a seasonal high, a stranger comes down our chimneys to eat our food, and there is that one relative who can talk about their dire health issues for two hours straight without stopping. What better way to tip it off than to watch a twisted holiday film about home invasions and ex-boyfriends?
Better Watch Out follows Ashley (Olivia DeJonge), a young adult who visits the suburbs to babysit a twelve-year-old boy named Luke (Levi Miller) when his parents leave for a holiday party. Luke’s plans to woo his babysitter are put on hold by a host of home intruders who are not at all who Ashley or the audience makes them out to be.
I stumbled on the trailer when I was looking for something new and festive to watch. I was not in the mood for a classic scream fest but I had already watched Cameron Diaz put the moves on Jude law for the fifth time in the same week. By the look of the trailer, my hopes were not high for Chris Pecker’s Christmas horror bash. A middle schooler is obviously suffocated by parents who will not let him grow up and a high schooler has a boyfriend who is ready to take some petty revenge by scaring her half to death. You can imagine my surprise when the movie itself all but turned my preconceived notions on their head.
Zack Kahn does a wonderful job of weaving together comedy, fright, and shock into one story surrounding the affections of a girl who may not be skilled with tendencies of the heart but well versed in surviving lovesick boys. I enjoyed Ashley DeJonge’s performance in particular and can easily say she’s another horror heroine that I was actually rooting for instead of wondering how exactly she had made it as far as she did. There’s a sense of pity that comes with her character, just as there is for Luke and Garett in keeping with the theme of cruel intentions.
Better Watch Out would have worked for any occasion besides the holidays, as much as the symbolism of naught and nice is appreciated. If I had to have any qualms with it, I’d say it would be the motive for the villains of this snowy slasher. Without putting it in the subgenre, the film relies on the psychological aspect of the intruder’s well-being to explain how and why Ashley is the breaking point for them. I guess there is only so much one can explain in ninety minutes, but I don’t really want to be thinking all that much about what drives someone to do what they do when I am just trying to get my gore on.
All in all, Better Watch Out (2016) is one of those horror flicks that will put audiences under pressure alongside the characters to sit tight, check their backyard for snipers, lock out the ex, and hope for the best.
Better Watch Out (2016) Official Trailer