Monday, December 4, 2017

[Review] Better Watch Out

Ah, nothing like a Christmas horror movie hybrid to ring in the holiday spirit. That's what Better Watch Out does -- it's a gleeful and twisted home alone/home invasion thriller, and I'm not talking about Joe Pesci or Santa.

Set on an unassuming suburban street, strung with Christmas lights and crawling with carolers, one night Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) is called upon to babysit a 12-year-old boy named Luke (Levi Miller), who's hopelessly in love with her and planning to impress. Things go awry fast when they start receiving threats from mysterious intruders. And, well -- to avoid spoilers -- I'll leave it at that.

If you can get past some of the awkward humor at the beginning, this turns into a fun, creepy, intense, shocking, and even dark holiday spectacle. Better Watch Out is a film that goes all the way Christmas and all the way horror (that's the way to do it, right?). It also shares some similar traits with the campy teen-horror movie The Babysitter, which debuted on Netflix this year. And speaking of Netflix, Dacre Montgomery (Max's sleazy older brother Billy from "Stranger Things") makes an amusing appearance here.

Anyway, the story delivers its tropes with a winking eye -- from the eerie foreshadowing to the screechy jolts to the jarring jumps -- but it also subverts them with some You're Next-like twists. All the while, it's backed with catchy and well-selected Christmas songs (including "Merry Christmas [I Don't Want to Fight Tonight]" by the Ramones) that contrast the deranged events and the film's deep plunge into an MA-rating (yeah, this isn't very family-friendly). So if you're in the mood for something on the naughtier side this December, make Better Watch Out the one.

( 7/10 )

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