One of the activities mentioned in the classic Christmas song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams includes “scary ghost stories;” so, for the Holiday season I will occasionally be reviewing and talking about Christmas movies with a horror twist. I will be calling these reviews HO HO HORROR (I’m sure someone else was clever enough to come up with this before, and if someone else has used this title before be sure to let me know).
There is not much that one can say about 2016’s Better Watch Out, so I will keep my review short and sweet. Better Watch Out is a subversive and unique take on the home invasion genre. It offers so much more for the audience, who are expecting something much different than they get. It reminded me of a much darker version of Christmas classic Home Alone, directed by Chris Columbus and released in 1990. Unlike that movie, Better Watch Out is much darker, sadistic, and brutal in execution. The film starts pretty simple with a babysitter, Ashley (Olivia DeJonge), going to take care of 12-year-old Luke, played excellently by Levi Miller–honestly one of the best performances I’ve seen from a young actor in a while. Luke is infatuated with the older Ashley, who has taken care of him before, and he and his best friend Garret (Ed Oxenbould) talk about how they can woo a woman with fear. He soon gets his chance to prove this theory after someone appears to break into the house after his parents, played by Virginia Madsen and Patrick Warburton, leave for their Christmas party; it is from this point on that things get strange, demented, and twisted.
I won’t say too much more to preserve the twist and turns. This movie features a clever script that is reminiscent of both Chris Columbus’ Home Alone and Michael Haneke’s Funny Games. The performances from everyone are incredible, especially from Levi Miller and Ed Oxenbould, and Virginia Madsen and Patrick Warburton give fun performances with the little screen time they have. If you want a twisted, and subversive take on the home invasion genre with a holiday twist, I would highly recommend Better Watch Out.