BETTER WATCH OUT is HOME ALONE Hysterical Horror

It’s that time of the year for Hollywood to dish out some shite Christmas films for the whole family. Thank Baby Jebus we are being gifted with one light hearted Christmas Horror film that was so much better than expected I actually want to see it again. BETTER WATCH OUT is HOME ALONE meets FUNNY GAMES or THE STRANGERS. It’s funny, dark, doesn’t require much thinking and may actually surprise you a few times, I pissed myself laughing quite a few times. BETTER WATCH OUT is out today in Australia from Rialto Distribution, is rated MA15+ and runs for 99mins.

 

Better Watch Out Levi Miller image

 

BY JASON KING

WHAT IS THIS BETTER WATCH OUT MOVIE ALL ABOUT?

On Christmas Eve, suburban parents Deanna () and Robert () head out, leaving their son Luke (Levi Miller) and his best friend Garrett () in the care of teenage babysitter Ashley ().

Cue SCREAM-like phone calls, cliched scares and home invasion and then bring on blood torture, squeamishness and make it funny. BETTER WATCH OUT is quite clever in it’s balance of horror and comedy and for taking something basically done-to-death and making it fresh and fun without being stupid. It is packed with the usual tropes but doesn’t take itself serious and somehow manages to keep it entertaining for the entire run time. There was quite a few jump scares and quite a few scenes that really go further than you would expect and that’s what makes it so much fun.

BETTER WATCH OUT looks as American as it can be but is actually (and oddly) mostly all filmed in Sydney. They did wonders with all the fake snow and that street – it was a quintessential Griswold family home neighborhood.

 

Better Watch Out Levi Miller and Olivia DeJonge image
Levi Miller and Olivia DeJonge

 

IT’S A FUN TEENAGE HOLIDAY HORROR:

Besides being, at times, horrifying, most of the movie is actually dark-as-Satan’s-heart humorous. There is a lot that I can’t talk about because I don’t want to be a douche and give away spoilers. But Aussie/Canadian director, , delivers the goods. He filmed in the middle of summer and created a full winter American set, in Sydney. He had 30 days to shoot and they could not shoot more than 10hrs a day because of child and union laws. How on Earth he thought this could be successful was near madness but he stuck to his guns and the movie went incredibly well in the US for the festival circuit where it went by the name SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD. It’s currently sitting on 91% on Rotten Tomatoes with 33 Critic Reviews and that speaks for itself.

It is shot beautifully with wonderful colour grading and some sublime visual effects and creative camera work. Some of the more horrific scenes are brilliant.

 

Better Watch Out Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould and Olivia DeJonge image
Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould and Olivia DeJonge

 

THE CAST:

The main cast is made up of three of the best teen actors in Australia at the moment.

Levi Miller appeared on the screens in PAN as the young Peter Pan in his origin tale. It wasn’t largely critically admired but I loved it – thought it was quite clever, and yes, I even loved Hugh in it. He was then in the sequel to RED DOG, titled RED DOG: TRUE BLUE – the movie was appalling but Miller’s performance was decent. Then came JASPER JONES, and while Miller was good the movie failed to get close the brilliance that is the book. And now we have him in BETTER WATCH OUT, this is most definitely his most mature role and his first role as more teenager than child. His performance is superb, I loved his character Luke. It is one of the most humorous and cheeky roles of the year and you can’t help but smile at the fun Miller is having playing Luke.

Ed Oxenbould of PAPER PLANES and THE VISIT fame is as good as Luke’s best friend – these guys have some fun shenanigans. Oxenbould is always engaging onscreen and he does “loser sidekick” really well. Olivia DeJonge also impresses as the slightly older babysitter. DeJonge was Oxenbould’s onscreen sister in THE VISIT and it was good seeing them together again. Rounding out the cast is the always awesome Virginia Madsen and Patrick Warburton as Luke’s parents and then (of recent STRANGER THINGS 2 infamy) and Aleks Mikic as Ashley’s (Olivia DeJonge) past and present boyfriends.

 

Better Watch Out Levi Miller and Virginia Madsen image
Levi Miller and Virginia Madsen

 

IN CONCLUSION:

BETTER WATCH OUT is a deep dark fun slasher set in America and filmed in Sydney in the middle of summer. The cast shines with Levi Miller in his best performance and if you want something a little more chill that decks the halls with blood and twisted hilarity then this is for you!

 

 

 

YOUR CRITIC:

 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the  industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.