Monday, December 25, 2017

Film Review: Better Watch Out (2016)

Better Watch Out (Review)
Australia/United States/2016
Format Viewed for Review: Shudder
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"It has earned a spot next to other holiday horror classics, although it's not quite as good as Black Christmas."

At a quiet suburban home, a babysitter must defend a twelve-year-old boy from intruders, but she soon finds everything is not what it seems.

Better Watch Out is the type of film you watch without watching the trailer beforehand. You should also avoid spoiler-filled reviews. Why? Well, it's filled with plenty of twists and turns—some are predictable, some actually interesting. The plot follows seventeen-year-old Ashley (Olivia DeJonge). Ashley has been hired to babysit Luke (Levi Miller) at a quiet house in a wealthy, safe neighborhood. Immediately, Ashley notices Luke's strange behavior as he tries to seduce her every chance he gets. Some creepy things happen, Luke's best friend Garrett (Ed Oxenbould) arrives, then they're attacked by intruders. It's not the average home invasion, though... That's all I'll say about the plot. If you want to spoil it for yourself, watch the trailer. It leads to a decent climax. I didn't love the ending, but it wasn't bad, either.

Better Watch Out was a refreshing experience. It doesn't take itself too seriously, filled with plenty of dark humor, but it also manages to work as a horror film. It has moments of great suspense. Although most of the violence occurs off-screen, it does have some surprisingly creative and violent death scenes. The film has a few jump-scares, though, especially during the first half of the film. The jump scares were all ineffective, unfortunately. It doesn't really have any real jolters, just a bunch of fake-outs. Although the plot is refreshing and the concept is interesting, the characters are cliché, especially Ashley. This leads to some very predictable plot points. It can also get a bit repetitive during its second and third acts. That's not a consistent issue, though.

The acting was great. Olivia DeJonge played a walking cliché, but she played it well. Levi Miller was a lot of fun. He's perfectly charismatic and downright evil. Ed Oxenbould was another cliché, but he added a lot of humor to the film. The film was shot well, too. I liked the lighting and the camerawork. It really captured that holiday-vibe. The film was written by Chris Peckover and Zach Kahn; Peckover also served as director. Aside from some cardboard cutout characters, the story offers enough to keep most viewers engaged from beginning to end. It's been done before, one way or another, but that doesn't make this bad in any way. Peckover's direction was also strong. He pulled great performances from his cast while perfectly capturing the holiday-horror spirit.

Overall, Better Watch Out was a great experience. It's a funny, disturbing, and suspenseful home invasion-style film. It has earned a spot next to other holiday horror classics, although it's not quite as good as Black Christmas. If you have Shudder, it's definitely worth a stream.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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