VOD film review: Better Watch Out
Ivan Radford | On 10, Nov 2018Reading time: 2 mins
Director: Chris Peckover
Cast: Olivia DeJonge, Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould
Watch Better Watch Out online in the UK: iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play
“When we’re scared, our brain pumps out dopamine,” Luke (Levi Miller) declares as scientific fact to his best mate, Garrett (Ex Oenbould). He’s 12 years old. And he can tell it’s fact because he read it on the Internet. And so he takes that obvious truth and comes up with the ultimate plan for a Christmas present to himself: put on a scary movie while his babysitter, Ashley (Olivia DeJonge), is over and use the ensuing fear to seduce her.
It’s a horrific, creepy idea, and Better Watch Out’s strength is that it never shies away from that. This is a nasty tale about a nasty boy whose views about the world – and about women – have been nurtured by privilege, the Internet and a friend eager to win his approval, and it faces the consequences of such a monster being created head-on. Branded a “delusional infant” by Ashley, we find ourselves rooting for her rather than him throughout this deranged ride.
And what a ride it is, as Luke’s planned night in – and what Ashley expected to be an ordinary night at work – is interrupted by a masked intruder. That might sound like your typical festive frightener, but by stacking our sympathies so firmly against what would have been a protagonist 15 years ago, the resulting race through seasonal and horror cliches has a wonderfully off-kilter quality. Chris Peckover and Zack Kahn’s script remains resolutely unpredictable, DeJone sinks her teeth into her smart and resourceful role, while Miller plays his arrogant part like he’s in a remake of Home Alone, but one where we really need to talk about Kevin.
It’s all put together by Peckover at a frenetic pace, with wildly energetic camerawork that disturbingly subverts all the usual set pieces (watch out for Home Alone’s iconic paint cans). The result is an enjoyably wicked horror that balances the terror of not being safe in your own home with the dangers of growing up unattended in the modern, online age – it looks Reddit culture in the face and sticks a baubled middle finger up at it with a smile.