Better Watch Out: Film Review
Cast: Olivia DeJonge, Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould
Director: Chris Peckover
Mixing Home Alone with Lionel Shriver horror cum Loved Ones nasty seems like a neat twist on the usual concept.
Chamber horror piece Better Watch Out aka Safe Neighbourhood manages to make it partially work but there's a distinctly uncomfortable after-taste left as it plays out, despite the snowy Christmas setting.
DeJonge plays babysitter Ashley, who's left in change of Levi Miller's Luke when his parents (Patrick Warburton and Virgina Madsen) head out on a festive night out.
Luke's been desperately in love with Ashley for years and decides tonight's the night to make his move and his feelings known. But things go awry when it appears there's a stalker outside threatening the pair of them...
To say more about Better Watch Out is to reveal spoilers, but suffice to say that its three-hander initially starts off well, with a tart and bitter taste to offset the usual saccharine setting of the Christmas film.
But this thriller strays a little too uncomfortably into unsettling territory, given current climates and the Weinstein saga, and its victimisation MO sits queasily more than anything else.
It's not to detract from any of the central performances and the intriguingly acerbic tone early on.
However, what transpires later in the film is just nigh on nasty with its darkness and the flip in tone is either going to appeal or see you running for the hills.
Mixing Home Alone vibes (and Carol the Bells) with the horror genre yields mixed rewards for Better Watch Out.
Usual horror films see you invested in certain characters and while Better Watch Out effectively tries to subvert and undermine what you're expecting to see, it does it with such viciousness that it's borderline schizophrenic and sadistic.
That may be some of the point here, but when the villain of the piece is revealed a third of the way in, the film shifts its horror tropes for a psychological edge that's as uncomfortable as it is confronting.
Perhaps it's a statement on the evil perpetrated by some intruding into the rich kids suburbs but the film delights in its nasty nefariousness.
There's an unsightly wickedness which haunts this holiday season flick and while it's to be commended for doing something a little different, the desire to not exactly condemn its perpetrators is as unsettling as you'd expect. Especially in these sex-accused times, and post-Weinstein world we live in.
You'd Better Watch Out indeed - because naughty or nice, this film has a way of getting under your skin in the most uncomfortable way possible. And that's not necessarily a good thing.