Dec 18, 2019


Better Watch Out is a surprise in more way than one — not just how it flips the script on a pretty standard concept, but also how smart and quirky the film itself is executed. Playing out almost like a twisted take on Home Alone, a group of kids at opposite ends of the teenage spectrum find themselves in a grim and deadly situation one night during what was supposed to be a quiet and calm babysitting gig. It’s difficult to review a film that depends highly on a major twist that comes fairly early; in the interest of preserving that twist, I’m going to keep it vague and short.

In a film mainly cast with young actors (Patrick Warburton and Virginia Madsen, the stock parents, are fleshed out enough to feel like actual characters, although they only bookend the first and last ten minutes), all the performances are excellent — each knows his or her own role and plays it extremely well. Levi Miller, especially, shows a tremendous amount of range for a young actor, and Dacre Montgomery (Billy in Stranger Things 2 & 3) gets a lot of mileage from playing your typical teen-boy asshole, and this in a reduced role.

Better Watch Out plays more like a horror/comedy rather than out-and-out horror, but not in a broad kind of way. Hewing closer to a dark tone as compared to something like, say, Krampus, Better Watch Out has a very sly and sneaky sense of humor — one far more subtle. Basically, if you’re taking Better Watch Out 100% seriously, you’re doing it wrong. It also gets some satirical mileage from its environment. The entirety of the film, except for a handful of exteriors, take place in the warm inviting home of young Luke, filled with bright colors, Christmas twinkly things, and other finery that upper-class people love. Then it gets covered in blood and murder and it's very holly jolly.

If you want violence and grue, you Better Watch Out ha ha puns. But seriously, gorehounds should be reasonably satisfied. Limbs don’t go flying, but within the confines of the home invasion sub-genre, what’s on display is perfectly reasonable. Some gags are left up to the imagination, but still manage to pack a mean punch anyway.

If you’re at all curious, see Better Watch Out before social media ruins the twist (and if there’s anything social media does, it’s ruin pretty much everything — twists included). Much — but not all — of your enjoyment rides on going in as fresh as possible.

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