The home invasion horror sub-genre has been stuck in a rut for several years with a lot of narratives following familiar structures, relying on cheap scares to frighten audiences. Thankfully Better Watch Out breathes some much-needed fresh air into the genre and the audience are treated to a refreshing take on the home invasion movie.
It’s hard to go into detail about the plot without spoiling some of the major moments from the film and I went into this movie blind, meaning I hadn’t seen any of the promotional material (it’s something I always aim to do so I can be completely surprised at the events that unfold on the screen before me). I think because of that, this movie was far more enjoyable (I recommend avoiding the trailer).
This film is very self-aware which was a huge plus; it didn’t take itself too seriously, which gave the film a nice tone that sits somewhere between messed up and funny. Imagine John Hughes characters in a Tarantino-esque story. The result is a film that understands the motifs of home invasion horror films, and uses them against the audience to pay off certain moments and twists in the film, setting a pace and tone which felt unique and intense. All of this contributes to the creepy but loveable charm that’s hard not to enjoy.
The story moves at a nice rate, as home invasion films tend to lean towards a high intensity fast moving story, and Better Watch Out rarely eases up, keeping the tension consistent throughout much of the film. Continuing to propel the story forward like this kept the film entertaining from start to finish by creating a level of uncertainty within the story.
The two stars of the film are Olivia DeJonge and Levi Miller; Miller plays Luke and he delivers a good performance however I think there was too much asked of him in the script, as I felt as though there was something missing in his performance that would have taken the film to a whole other level. Melbourne’s own DeJonge plays the babysitter Ashley, who’s a likeable lead and she gives a solid performance throughout the entire film. The supporting cast includes Ed Oxenbould from The Visit (2015) and my favourite performance came from Dacre Montgomery, who we saw in season two of the TV series Stranger Things as Billy.
I had a lot of fun with this movie as I found it really refreshing to watch a horror movie that changes the usual format and attempts something different. It would have been good if the writing was as strong as the story, but despite all of that, Better Watch Out is a bit of a dark horse film that I think a lot of people will enjoy. Fans of horror, comedy and thriller can all find something to enjoy in this film. A perfect film for a movie night.
Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould also starred together as siblings in The Visit (2015).
Desert Island Movie Collection: Tarantino Boxset.
Best Movie Snack: Popcorn
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