Indie retro slashers follow a specific formula adding just enough creativity to get away with it. Better Watch Out took a different, slightly more disturbing route and it paid off. Now, I know that some people won’t like it because it’s more raunchy than it needs to be but I liked it. Right from the start, you will be greeted with sassy dialogue and a bit lower production values. However, you can feel that every scene was meticulously set up and filmed. You will feel that inner voice telling you to better stick with this one because it will only get better and better.
The important thing about Better Watch Out is to simply watch it without reading any additional information. Don’t let other people spoil your fun. And there will be a lot of fun here. The movie is gleefully twisted and in that sense, it reminded me of another great horror, the Australian masterpiece The Loved Ones. The story follows a babysitter during one crazy night. A concept we’ve seen in countless other movies. And speaking of similar movies, The Babysitter starring magnetic Samara Weaving also features a similar story.
Now, Better Watch Out has some flaws, hedging its bets on the main gimmick that either works or it doesn’t. It’s one of those movies you either love or hate. I kind of liked it but I certainly found it entertaining. And you know me, give me a single location and a story unfolding over the course of a couple of hours and I’m good. Once the action starts things also get a bit contrived. I was expecting more creativity but what can you do?
Young Ashley is about to leave her hometown and move to Pittsburg. Before leaving, she decides to babysit young Luke for the last time. His parents appreciate it and she can use the money. Luke is in love with her but Ashley’s boyfriend is eager to come over. However, he’s not the only one who’s going to be crashing this Christmas party as this will turn out to be one crazy night.
The cast of Better Watch Out was quite good, especially our two leads Olivia DeJonge and Levi Miller. It was also a true pleasure to see Virginia Madsen as the no-bullshit mom. Too bad she didn’t get more of these roles. Do check her out in The Hot Spot if you want to see her in the almost same kind of role. Moving on, most of the jokes worked just fine here although the movie has this dark and subversive atmosphere going on.
Now, you do need to kind of go along with the story here and don’t ask too many questions. Like why this teenager needs a babysitter? The pacing is solid although the last thirty minutes do drag on a bit. Luckily, the running time is just 85 minutes so this can be a perfect warm-up movie to kick off your movie night with a bang. And I guess the Christmas setting makes it a good choice for the holidays.
Director: Chris Peckover
Writers: Zack Kahn, Chris Peckover
Cast: Olivia DeJonge, Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould, Aleks Mikic, Virginia Madsen, Dacre Montgomery
Fun Facts: The original title of the movie was Safe Neighborhood. Additionally, Selena Gomez almost ended up playing the babysitter.