Better Watch Out is available to rent, buy or stream now.
We’ve all seen Home Alone and Kevin McCallister’s iconic defence against a duo of bumbling burglars where paint cans of doom, hot molten glue traps and tickly spiders on faces help Kevin overcome the baddies. But before his war with the burglars, Kevin was also pretty damn unbearable as he had a classic Christmas strop in front of his family. We all know at least one kid who is intolerable at the Christmas family reunion. However, unlike Kevin, they are often granted unlimited free passes because “they’re just a kid.” Chris Peckover’s deliciously dark Better Watch Out couples the classic spoilt Christmas kid with a far darker exploration of control and manipulation in a movie that could be labelled ‘Home Alone 4: Murder, Torment and Tantrums.’
In Better Watch Out, tweenager Luke Lerner (Levi Miller) gradually unveils a manipulative plan to seduce his babysitter Olivia DeJonge’s Ashley into an uncomfortable sexual liaison. Watching Miller’s psychotic tween is akin to watching a slightly older and damaged Kevin McCallister lay out a series of deadly hormonal traps, but here there is a far more squirm-inducing realism. Levi Miller’s performance is utterly compelling and unhinged as he weaves his deadly plan, so much so that you want to jump into the screen and strangle him yourself with some fairy lights. Meanwhile, his long-suffering friend Garrett (Ed Oxenbould) stands in the wings obeying Luke’s every command as he gazes at him with a puppy-like sense of awe and commitment through the horror.
Better Watch Out is the perfect ‘Anti-Christmas’ horror, as it couples the spoilt Christmas kid with evil child tropes and classic babysitter in peril slashers. It’s a delightfully twisted coming-of-age tale from which there is no escape as two munchkins indulge their little fantasies with deadly consequences. Peckover film may be bathed in a plethora of festive imagery, from fairy lights to candy canes and snow-covered suburban streets, but its soul is firmly rooted in horror and dark comedy as The Good Son meets Home Alone and the cult classic The Pit. This makes Better Watch Out one of the more underappreciated Anti-Christmas gems of the holiday season and a modern cult classic that deserved another outing but sadly never got one.