Better Watch Out (2016)


Better Watch Out is available to rent, buy or stream now.

We’ve all seen Home Alone and Kevin McCallister’s iconic defence of his home against a duo of bumbling burglars. Here paint cans of doom, hot molten glue traps and tickly spiders on faces surrounded Kevin’s imaginative defence. But before his war with the burglars, Kevin was also pretty damn unbearable as he had a classic Christmas strop. Of course, we all know at least one kid who is intolerable at any Christmas family reunion. However, unlike Kevin, they are often granted unlimited free passes because “they’re just a kid.” Chris Peckover takes these two concepts and mashes them together to create the deliciously dark Better Watch Out.

In Better Watch Out, tweenager Luke Lerner (Levi Miller) gradually unveils a plan to seduce his babysitter Olivia DeJonge’s Ashley into an uncomfortable romantic liaison. It’s akin to watching a psychotic Kevin McCallister as he sets out his deadly traps but with a far more squirm-inducing realism. Levi Miller’s performance is fantastic as an unhinged childish psychopath; he makes you want to jump into the screen and strangle him yourself. Here he can get away with a level of actions that seem unfathomable at any other age other than his – it feels all too familiar, like trying to get your family to understand how awful a sibling or cousin truly is. 


Better Watch Out is a perfect ‘Anti-Christmas’ horror, as it delves into the unbearable nature of being around children at Christmas. You know what I mean, those festive gatherings where you have to play along with the games of a group of munchkins and indulge their little fantasies while dreaming of making your escape. However, in Better Watch Out, the exit door is firmly barred and not playing along will result in deadly consequences. Here Peckover incorporates a charming yet unsettling plethora of festive imagery, from fairy lights to sharpened candy canes and snow-covered suburban streets. While at the same time flipping and subverting Home Alone, the source of his inspiration.

Better Watch Out is undoubtedly one of the more underappreciated and lesser-known Anti-Christmas gems of the holiday season. This movie appeals to horror and festive fans alike, each finding something to appreciate if they can make it through without smashing their television screens in extreme frustration. 


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