Better Watch Out (2016)

Better Watch Out is one of those movies I don't even remember seeing ads for, but I guess they weren't exactly on point for what the movie is.  It was presented as being a horror comedy, like a darker humored Home Alone, with a babysitter and her charges defending themselves against a home invasion.  The movie itself is quite dark, and has a few funny spots in it, but despite the marketing it is obvious that writer and director Chris Peckover took the story at the heart of the film quite seriously.

Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) is called in to babysit Luke (Levi Miller), a 12-year-old boy that has developed a crush on her.  He reveals his plans to his best friend Garrett (Ed Oxenbould) to make his move and how he figures it will work.  Unfortunately, Ashley is about to move to Pittsburgh to attend college and is involved with a boy named Ricky (Aleks Mikic) who is her own age.

Despite this Luke tries impressing her by drinking and attempting to seduce her while watching a horror film.  Naturally, due to the age difference, she rejects him.  However, strange things begin to happen, and soon it appears as though a strange man - or men - have surrounded and entered the home for unknown reasons.  At her behest Luke gets his father's gun to protect them and the two try to hide.  While the reasons for invasion become clear Ashley soon realizes how much danger she is actually in.

This is one of those movies where to say too much reveals the major twist which, in this one, comes about halfway through the movie.  While there is some humor to be found in Luke's awkward attempts at courting Ashley and the appearance of one of her ex-boyfriends, Jeremy (Dacre Montgomery), who is made up to look like the Scumbag Steve meme, most of the movie is Ashley's attempts to rescue herself from a serial killer that has become obsessed with her. 

Almost all of Better Watch Out takes place within the home and outside, with the yard being booby trapped by the killer.  There is a reference to Home Alone, answering the question of what would really happen if someone was hit in the head with a full bucket of paint.  We get quick cameos by Virginia Madsen and Patrick Warburton as Luke's parents in an attempt to do the required modern horror movie trope of including stars of classic films. 

Surprisingly, for a movie that never even made a dent at the box office, it's decently made and acted and has a number of tense moments.  The killer is given a little too much cleverness and there are many, many scenes where one will need to suspend disbelief, but it has its surprises, especially when it transitions from what appears to be a game taken too far into actual acts of violence.  Olivia DeJonge is particularly engaging in her never-say-die performance, and she's again teamed with Ed Oxenbould, both of them previously appearing as brother and sister in M. Night Shyamalan's found footage film, The Visit.  Levi Miller is effective as the awkward Luke.  It's probably better viewed around the holiday season it was meant for, and it is a welcome alternative to many of the other movies that come out around that time. 

Better Watch Out (2016)
Time: 89 minutes
Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould
Director: Chris Peckover


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