Better Watch Out (2016)
Updated: Jan 19
Back to the regularly scheduled holiday programming, this post is all about Better Watch Out (2016) directed Chris Peckover. Not going to lie, I didn’t plan on being fully engaged when we put this movie on but it captured my attention because it took a turn I could not have predicted going in. I assumed this movie to be a typical babysitter is stuck at home babysitting during the holiday season and a burglar or group of burglars break in and then attempt to murder them. Also guessed it might be a murderer with a target on them due to them being home alone. Not at all what it turned into.
The babysitter, Ashley, played by Olivia DeJonge, gets more than she bargained for when the child she’s babysitting, Luke, played by Levi Miller, sets up a fake intruder to seduce her. Enlisting the help of his friend, Garret, played by Ed Oxenbould, Luke sets Ashley up to believe that a murderer is hunting them down in order to be able to step in and protect her. Even going as far as to convince Ashely that the murderer kills Garret. Shock and awe, the “killer” is actually just Garret with a shotgun playing along with this grand middle school esq. Obviously this revelation alarms and angers Ashley who rightfully tells this demon child to get therapy and attempts to leave. Unfortunately Luke’s obsession knows no bounds and upon this attempt Luke slaps Ashley who falls down the stairs. An unconscious Ashley is then duct taped to a chair and Luke proceeds to torment her with a game of ‘Truth or Dare’.
Ashley’s boyfriend Ricky, played by Aleks Mikic, arrives on scene and after an unsuccessful attempt to knock him out he’s coaxed into being duct taped to a chair alongside Ashley with the threat of being shot. I have to say, as much as Luke is doing awful and terrible things, the actor’s portrayal of this character is what truly makes the movie. From voice cracks to the well acted juxtaposition between sociopathic actions and middle school boy thoughts Miller’s performance is what kept my interest.
In a horrifying scene which I am glad they did not fully show, Luke decides that he wants to know what would actually happen if you smashed someone’s head with a swinging paint can like in the movie Home Alone. I have to give it to the actors because despite them not showing it, the reactions of the actors told me everything I needed to know about the gruesome outcome of this wretched experiment.
After this murder the twelve year old mastermind even gets Ashley’s ex-boyfriend, played by Dacre Montgomery (shout out Stranger Things), to come over who he then convinces to write an apology letter to Ashely outside before coming in. Seeing Billy from Stranger Things in 2010’s ‘swag’ fashion had me shook to the core in the best and most hilarious way. Nonetheless, while this is happening Garrett is finally being of some use and coming to his senses as Ashley convinces him that he’s expendable to Luke and the best thing to do is to let Ashley, now tied up in Christmas lights, go. He agrees and begins to untie her. Luke however is outside killing the boyfriend by stringing him up over a branch, armed with what looks like a suicide letter he is confident this murder will just look like the ex-boyfriend, now framed as a guilty killer, taking himself out.
After this Luke goes inside to find Garrett trying to free Ashley and after some dialogue Luke shoots Garrett in the chest, killing him. I didn’t feel as bad as I should have about this because he should’ve stopped Luke far before anyone got killed but then again he did agree to participate in the original fake murderer plan so how innocent was he to begin with. Now defeated and resigned to her fate, Ashley shares a moment with Luke just before Luke stabs her in the neck, killing her.
This next part had me triggered. I have been led to believe through the actions of this character that Luke is a criminal prodigy of sorts, willing to go the distance and conscious of evidence that will point his way. He’s even aware of the story of the crime and making it make at least some sense. Do I think he’s created a hard to believe mess? Absolutely. But, I do believe that not many would have assumed he had anything to do with it. However, his grand plan is to pretend that he slept through the whole massacre happening downstairs?!! Not only that but that the killer had zero interest in harming him or even making sure that he couldn’t identify them. It makes absolutely zero sense to me that police would believe this shit. There are four…..four dead bodies downstairs all killed in gruesome and very loud ways, how the fuck would he have not woken up, even drugged. Also, why would the killer drug him? I understand that the police believe that the ex-boyfriend commit these murders but what a weird way to go about it. If the ex really wanted to kill Ashley why would her babysitting be the time to strike and not when she’s walking outside alone, or home alone, etc. Whatever, this just pissed me off because it made a lot of sense up until he got into bed completely untouched to complete his story and didn’t stage that he’d been tortured and traumatized too.
Now, I really liked this next part. After whining to his parents that he has no idea what’s going on and they confirm he’s safe blah blah blah they look out of the upstairs window to see Ashley, my girl, being rolled out of the house on a stretcher into an ambulance. They’re informed that she miraculously survived by placing duct tape over her neck wound, slowing the bleed. Ashley then flips off Luke who is still watching from the upstairs window, and Luke mentions he wants to visit Ashley in the hospital. I would hope that Ashley spills as much as possible in the ambulance ride and at the very least casts suspicion on Luke. Regardless, we hit the credits at this point.
Better Watch Out (2016) ended up being a nice accidental find. A Christmas themed horror movie that doesn’t follow many of the clichés and even nods at being a darker version of Home Alone (1990). If you’re looking for something a little more bloody than your average Christmas movie that isn’t littered with Christmas tropes I would recommend Better Watch Out.
Recommended score: 7/10