There’s something about the holidays that brings out the need for a hybrid genre. Maybe it’s the selfish shoppers, idiot drivers, or the overbearing pleasant facades people wear, but a horror film set at Christmas seems to really work for me. Gremlins, Krampus, and Black Christmas are all movies that I am very fond of, and Chris Peckover’s Better Watch Out has just made its way onto my holiday rotation.
Better Watch Out is an original holiday horror thriller that needs to be seen unsullied!
Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) is babysitting Luke (Levi Miller) for what is probably the last time before she leaves her small, suburban town for college. The night starts at as usual – pizza and a movie – but a home invasion wrecks their quiet evening in.
Peckover and Zach Kahn both have credits for this excellent screenplay. IMDb.com doesn’t list the film as a horror comedy, but there are some genuinely funny moments in the film. Kahn has a writing credit for MadTV so the comedic chops aren’t totally surprising. The dialogue is also well written and manages to never feel cheesy or inorganic. There are some great suspenseful moments in the movie to go along with the laughs. The biggest highlight has to be the films originality as every time it seems to show its hand there is a nice twist for the viewer.
DeJonge is excellent and has clearly improved as an actress since she was on The Visit (2015). Miller was Peter in the generally disliked Pan (2015), which I didn’t see, and does very well playing the thirteen-year-old who has a crush on his babysitter. Patrick Warburton is Luke’s father and, while he isn’t in the film much, gets to shine when he is on screen. Luke’s best friend, Garrett, is played by Ed Oxenbould, who was also on The Visit (2015) and gets to play the comedic relief role he is often cast in. In reality, there is a lot of the characters to have to do in this movie because of the blended tone, but they all manage to pull it off.
Better Watch Out is available on home video and VOD, and I personally rented it from Red Box and then bought it digitally. It’s a movie that rewards the viewer for knowing as little as possible about the plot so avoid reading anything else on it. I kept my review vague in order to allow you, the reader, to get the same amazing experience I did. I give Better Watch Out the Must See rating for a holiday horror film!