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