Director: Chris Peckover
Cast: Olivia DeJonge, Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould
Release Date: December 5, 2017
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9/10
Disc Rating: 7.5/10
This holiday season, you may be home, but you’re not alone… In this fresh and gleefully twisted spin on home-invasion horror, babysitter Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) must defend her young charges (Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould ) when intruders break into the house one snowy night – or so she thinks.
Get ready for some twisted holiday fun in ‘Better Watch Out’ which joins teenage babysitter Ashley (DeJonge) on your average holiday night in a generally safe and peaceful community where she arrives to watch her regular charge, the young Luke (Miller). Hopelessly in love with the beautiful babysit for so long, Luke knows that tonight is his final chance to try and win her over before she moves away and is fully prepared to showcase his maturity. But when an unexpected intruder arrives and the night quickly turns bloody, it’s up to Ashley to protect young Luke and his best friend against the unknown threat which kicks off a night of terror unlike anything she could have imagined.
Directed by Chris Peckover (Undocumented) from a screenplay he additionally co-wrote with Zack Kahn (MAD TV), Peckover does a fantastic job at the helm of ‘Better Watch Out’ which marks his sophomore feature length directorial effort, guiding along this wonderfully twisted holiday tale without ever missing a beat. The film also owes its share of credit to the capable individuals that comprise the cast including Olivia DeJonge (The Visit), Levi Miller (Pan), Ed Oxenbould (Paper Planes), Aleks Mikic (TV’s Secret City), Dacre Montgomery (TV’s Stranger Things), Patrick Warburton (Ted), and Virginia Madsen (TV’s Designated Survivor) along with a few more, the majority delivering fairly solid overall performances in each of their respective roles.
‘Better Watch Out’ is delightfully demented holiday fun that takes viewers along on a wildly entertaining and unpredictably twisted night of sadistic mayhem and blood soaked craziness with a pitch black sense of humor to round it all out. It’s difficult to go into a great amount of detail regarding the film without giving away certain elements that while perhaps not considered complete spoilers will nonetheless detract from the fun for those such as me that manage to remain unaware of such surprises prior to watching. Those who tend to dislike horror films or exceptionally twisted movies that aren’t afraid to truly get nasty in their approach and demeanor will probably want to avoid ‘Better Watch Out’ as it’s certainly not the film many will expect, but the rest of us will likely have a great deal of bloody fun with this wild and original ride that is certain to become a horror-holiday cult classic in no time. Smoothly guided along its dark course by director Chris Peckover who does a wonderful job here with his second feature length effort as director and his capable guidance is only further complimented by a well selected cast led by capable young stars Olivia DeJonge, Levi Miller and Ed Oxenbould. I would definitely encourage horror fans and those who can appreciate a surprisingly twisted little holiday ride to make a point of giving ‘Better Watch Out’ a whirl whenever you can find the chance; you definitely won’t want to miss out on this unexpected and magnificent little thriller.
Overall, ‘Better Watch Out’ is a pleasant surprise of a twisted holiday tale that is far from what you might initially expect. Delivering a chilling, dementedly funny and occasionally somewhat bloody twist on the home invasion thriller concept that’s capably guided by director Chris Peckover and boosted all the more by a relatively unknown, yet no less solid cast, it all comes together into a wonderful little gem of a film that genre fans will not want to overlook. ‘Better Watch Out’ definitely earns one of my highest possible recommendations. It certainly won’t be for everyone, but for the fellow horror fans and folks that tend to enjoy a shocking and demented little flick with some holiday cheer sprinkled in it’s not to be missed and should likely have no trouble whatsoever proving well worth your time and the cost of a rental.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Better Watch Out’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks pretty great as a whole and delivers a fairly clean, sharp and detailed presentation throughout that rarely disappoints. A few of the exceptionally dark moments do result in some obvious video noise and banding, yet fortunately only in a couple rare occurrences and never anywhere near severe enough that it might result in any on screen activity being rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a quite capable high definition video presentation from Well Go USA that should largely please both fans of the movie and casual viewers.
The Blu-ray release features a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack provides a crisp, smooth and at times fairly active audio presentation. Often taking advantage of all five available channels in order to send creepy audio effects, bits of dialogue and other elements throughout the various speakers when appropriate, along with some hilariously festive holiday music that contradicts the on-screen insanity splendidly, while always making certain that all dialogue and other audio activity remains clear and fully audible at all times. Overall, this is a great 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that pretty much delivers around the board and does a wonderful job consistently complimenting the film.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Better Watch Out’ includes an in-depth Behind the Scenes Featurette ‘Red Christmas: Making Safe Neighborhood’ (running approximately 53 minutes in length) which was apparently made prior to the film’s name change and includes behind the scenes footage, interviews/comments with the cast and a crew, plus more. Also included are both a ‘Green Band Trailer’ and a ‘Red Band Trailer’ for the movie (running approximately 2 minutes each) along with one little physical bonus: a ‘Collectible Holiday Card’.