Better Watch Out

Better Watch Out ★★½

The Letterboxd Era Catch Up 2: The Last Stand

A poster which outshines its movie by quite some distance is never usually a good sign but I think on this occasion that poster would outshine any film.

Better Watch Out is an average Christmas horror film that's riddled with problems and a totally uneven tone that prevent it from being a surprise horror hit like The Babysitter managed to be on the childminding horror movie front this year.

It hinges most of its impact on a twist before its halfway mark which took this in a much different direction than I was expecting before coming into this blind. As twists go it's alright, but it spends far too much time getting there, leaving only about 45 minutes to do anything else with.

Director Chris Peckover (school must have been fun with a name like that) opts for a critique of male privilege, which is fine on paper, but I don't think that's really enough to be hinging the character twists on here. There needed to be something more. He should have used the early stages of Better Watch Out to drop some kind of hints that something like this might happen, for instance. As such, it just feels like a turn out of nowhere.

It also wrestles with humour on a number of occasions and it mostly didn't work. Mixing humour with sexual assault themes almost never works and it certainly doesn't here. He should have gone with one thing or the other, and I didn't mind which as I felt there was potential in this being a serious horror film or a horror-comedy. As such the Home Alone homages fall flatter than they should, especially the paint can scene recreation.

The cast do make it worth persevering with. Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould are reunited from The Visit with Oxenbould this time holding off on the rapping. Thank fuck. DeJonge is good once again but Levi Miller inevitably steals the show although his character is perhaps the biggest casuality of the uneven mix of serious and jokey themes here.

But if you're going to cast Patrick Warburton and Virginia Madsen, it's a total waste to only have them in it for about 15 minutes. This perhaps irked me most of all about Better Watch Out, but the hinted-at sequel has potential if Peckover can decide what he really wants his film to be second time round.