BETTER WATCH OUT (REVIEW)
Updated: Dec 17, 2022
Dir. Chris Peckover
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
'tis the season to be jolly, tra la la la la la la la... That was until Chris Peckover gave us BETTER WATCH OUT. We may still be at threat of snow but as we're nowhere near Christmas, what better reminder than to release 2017's token horror entry, BETTER WATCH OUT this April.
Looking to take the mantle as a seasonal treasure, BETTER WATCH OUT flips the home invasion thriller on its head in a movie that can only be described as AMERICAN PSYCHO meets HOME ALONE. One thing is for sure, it may be decorated in pretty lights but behind it's bright exterior, this film is nasty.
On a quiet American street, all is calm and all is bright until babysitter Ashley (Olivia DeLonge) is forced to protect a twelve year old boy, Luke (Levi Miller) from intruders. As they fight for their survival, all may not be as it seems in a film that pits innocence with psychosis.
While other festive favourites GREMLINS, KRAMPUS or even RARE EXPORTS have a generally warm and friendly feeling, BETTER GET OUT is as comfortable as it gets this side of New Year. Where Christmas is the time for giving, Peckover's genre defying slasher is both innovative and infuriating at the same time.
On the one hand, it is a strikingly original thriller that plays into the hands of cliché and tears them apart. Zach Kahn's script strikes at genre favourites but pulls the rug on everything that is expected from the home invasion thriller that has become a sub genre of its own. As the story unfolds, both Miller and DeLonge do well to bring the unfolding drama on screen.
However, on the other side, as a festive treat, it feels too wrong to enjoy in this when the nature is much more visious than that expected of a Christmas classic. What brings recent hits SINT and KRAMPUS back year after year is their message and warmth, behind the horror they still hold a meaning of Christmas togetherness, something that is vividly absent from BETTER WATCH OUT. As a standalone film, this is quite a diamond in the rough but in defying convention also sabotages its chances of becoming an annual rewatch. At its best, it's a vicious rollercoaster ride of violence, at its worst, it is a nasty, unforgiving strike against Christmas.