J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Better Watch Out: The Christmas Horror Movie We’ve Been Waiting for

The babysitter is always the prime candidate to be the final girl. That is even true during the Christmas season, if not more so. After all, whenever you see halls decked and chestnuts roasting in a movie, you know some kind of chaos will soon follow. Ashley was hoping to take a timeout from her personal drama by babysitting for a longtime client, but there will be no peace on earth for her in Chris Peckover’s Better Watch Out (trailer here), which opens this Friday in New York.

Luke Lerner has always had a crush on Ashley, so he is determined to finally put the moves on her before she moves away for college. He thinks a little champagne will help, but we know what happens when you drink in a horror movie. Of course, Ashley is not about to do anything inappropriate with him. She is already juggling a boyfriend who feels neglected and an ex who won’t take no gracefully.

Strange things start happening when the pizza they didn’t order shows up. Then someone cuts out the wifi and phone lines. They quickly find themselves trapped in a mash-up of Home Alone and When a Stranger Calls. However, Peckover has a devious game-changing twist up his sleeve. It is so gleefully evil, he could probably only get away with it in a subversive horror comedy, but fortunately that is exactly what Better Watch Out happens to be.

Olivia DeJonge looks like a typically bland CW TV star, but she plays Ashley the sitter with appealing energy and grit. We really pull for her on an emotional level, just as we dig hating her tormentor. Levi Miller and Ed Oxenbould show comedic range that you just have to see to understand as young Lerner and his nebbish best pal Garrett. As a bonus, Virginia Madsen and Patrick Warburton have a blast parachuting in and out as Lerner’s bickering parents, Deandra and Robert.

It is tricky to get into much detail with Better Watch Out, because so much happens beneath the fold. However, it is safe to say devoted horror consumers will appreciate its attitude and sly, knowing humor. Even though it goes for laughs just as much or more than scares, it really is the Christmas-themed horror movie we have been waiting for. No question about it, this movie kicks Red Christmas’s butt. Highly recommended for horror fans and anyone who never wants to see Home Alone again, Better Watch Out opens this Friday (10/6) in New York, at the AMC Loews 34th, as in Miracle on.

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