Skip to main content

Better Watch Out (2016) Is A Darkly Hilarious Holiday Horror Gift

A babysitting gig that becomes a home invasion battle turns even more disastrous.

Written by Zack Kahn & Chris Peckover
Directed by Chris Peckover

Horror loves turning the most sacred and cherished of holidays into something that can also connote terror. Better Watch Out, with all the ambiance of a holly jolly Christmas is interrupted in ways you may not see coming. And above its much more sinister intentions, you're either giggling at the intentional dark humor or laughing your ass off.

The nubile Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) looks after lovelorn Luke (Levi Miller) while his over-each-other parents played by Virigina Madsen and Patrick Warburton head out in the snowy suburban streets for some holiday festivities. Madsen's Deandra does lay down some particular rules before hand with Ashley about Luke's routine which plays as a quick distraction to what the meat of the film slices into. With parental unapproved partner Garrett (Ed Oxenbould), Luke spends the entire night attempting to gain Ashley's affections.

Luke isn't quite a teenager but far from a baby. I found the need for a babysitter at all as odd. I'm speaking from a place of someone who was a latchkey kid so this was a big part of understanding class, space, and privilege that Better Watch Out cleverly delves into. It's up to you to either appreciate or wave off the approach. Entitlement is becoming a scary realm in our current sociopolitical climate that seeks to eradicate rather than accept the evolution of our society. In some ways, Better Watch Out looks at this battle with an ending that asserts the fight is everlasting. If this all seems vague, good. Saying more would just spoil the film and the discourse here is popcorn material.

Better Watch Out is the definition of a horror comedy with great performances all around. If you loved The Visit, you'll be happy to see DeJonge and Oxenbould reunited under the same set lights stretching their acting wings as budding stars I would welcome wholeheartedly to stay in genre films if they so choose. Music and setting in delightfully ironic ways contradicts the tone and while some aspects feel predictable, I would argue this is a film will always keep you guessing.

Popular posts from this blog

28 Black Women Horror Filmmakers

1. Zandashé Brown, Blood Runs Down (2018) 2. Raeshelle Cooke, Last Words (2015) 3. Tamara S. Hall, A Night At The Table (2019) 4. R. Shanea Williams, Paralysis (2015) 5. Monica Moore-Suriyage, Black In Red Out (2016)

The Horror Noire Education Guide

Myself and executive producers Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman and Tananarive Due present a digital, living document we hope will guide further inquiry into what was covered in Horror Noire and beyond. This is just the beginning of what will be developed as we create a fluid discourse on Black horror from here on.

How MIDSOMMAR Utilizes and Subverts Horror Movie Tropes of People of Color

By Mary Kay McBrayer ( @mkmcbrayer ) For a film that could have been easily white-washed, Ari Aster’s Midsommar does have an inclusive cast. Before our characters are even taken to Sweden where most of the film's dread fueled action takes place, we meet them in their college town. Dani (Florence Pugh) stresses about her sister’s scary email while her boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor) drinks at a bar with his buddies, only one of whom is black named Josh ( The Good Place 's William Jackson Harper). I have watched enough horror movies to know—and I’ve been brown enough long enough to know—that this setting does not bode well for a person of color. The token minority, say it with me, tends to die first. Because of this ratio, I expected a few other established tropes of the horror genre in Josh’s character, too, and I have to admit, I was delighted and surprised that nothing played out the way I expected.