It wouldn’t be Frightfest without a Christmas-themed horror to befuddle your sense of what day it is over the August Bank Holiday weekend.
It wouldn’t be Frightfest without a Christmas-themed horror to befuddle your sense of what day it is over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Better Watch Out is that film this year.
Babysitter Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) is the motherhood and apple pie 17-year old blonde woman twelve year olds’ Luke (Levi Miller) and Garrett (Ed Oxenbould) swoon over. The former has read a blog that tells him fear can get a woman wet and into a man’s arms. His naïve plan is simple. While she babysits him he’ll slip on a horror film, they can watch it together and she’ll be so scared, she will be his for the taking. Garrett laughs off this ridiculous idea, but Luke is a determined young man. His lovestruck plans go awry when him and Ashley are subjected to a real home invasion and it is Ashley that must try to protect him. So far, so predictable. Thankfully, the initial cat and mouse, meets horror romcom is all misdirect. Better Watch Out is a much more wicked film than the opening 15 minutes would have you believe. It’d be unfair to spoil the main twist in this review, but suffice to say it evolves into something resembling an R-rated Home Alone survivalist thriller. This includes a direct homage to said family holiday favourite with a paint tin of bright yellow paint on rope tossed over a banister. Astonished Garrett even says to Luke: “You’re going to Home Alone him?”
The clues to BWO’s dark heart and mean spirit are obviously there in hindsight. The interplay between Luke’s parents is both biting satire on the forced jollity of the season combined with the venom of a loveless couple. Virgina Madsen as Luke’s mother berates dad (Patrick Warburton) over his choice of santa tie and love for his ornamental tree decorations. She asks if he’s not really gay. Something he vehemently denies and says he just likes gay things. But the interrogation doesn’t stop there. She asks if he didn’t suck cock at least once at college, by accident. It’s a sequence straight out of the John Water’s school of family dynamics.
Miller and Oxenbould are a great double act as the nightmare representation of internet-weaned millennials who fear nothing and no one’s authority. DeJonge’s fight until the bitter end is an untypical last girl standing journey. Better Watch Out smartly subverts most genre expectations, without ever losing sight of the influences that inspired it in the first place.