If you crossed the 1990 comedy Home Alone with 2008’s thriller The Strangers, you’d have the makings of Better Watch Out, a rather surprising hybrid film. Better still, Home Alone meets Freddy Krueger at Christmas and a ho, ho, ho to you all.
The film is set in a quiet American suburb on a snowy evening in the lead-up to Christmas. Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) is the regular babysitter for 12-year-old Luke (Levi Miller). But when it comes to the beautiful Ashley, Luke has stirring desires that he intends to act on. Luke’s best friend Garrett (Ed Oxenbould) also has a part to play. Ashley may have the smarts to brush off Luke’s advances, but before long she’s defending him from strangers seemingly trying to break into the house. She comes to discover however that this is far from a normal home invasion.
Better Watch Out – featuring a bunch of Aussies – is surprisingly strong, given its awkward start. It’s the inventiveness of the script that stands out. Creativity and originality count for a lot in the horror cabinet and writer/director Chris Peckover shows he has what it takes. He co-wrote the piece with Zack Kahn, who was responsible for the story.
Levi Miller (Jasper Jones) is carving out a nice career for himself. Here he does a good job creating a twisted persona. Olivia DeJonge (The Visit) is no slouch either, both strong-willed and vulnerable in her latest role.
Coming up with a plausible ending is often the greater challenge once the cards are laid bare. Once again, by that measure Better Watch Out scores a touchdown. It picks up momentum and finishes with a twist. I’m pleased to be able to say this is a film that deserves attention.