Chris Peckover’s horror film, Better Watch Out, centers around Ashley (Olivia DeJonge), who agrees to babysit 12-year-old Luke (Levi Miller) and his delinquent friend, Garrett (Ed Oxenbould), unaware of the non-holiday-related chaos that is about to ensue.
Please note that the following review contains spoilers.
Review of Better Watch Out
Despite its intentionally deceptive advertisement as a home-invasion horror film, viewers soon become aware that there is only one true antagonist in Better Watch Out, and he is already inside.
Once she discovers that Luke and Garrett have staged a faux home invasion, Ashley is knocked unconscious and duct-taped to a chair.
After she regains consciousness, Ashley finds herself in an alarming situation during which she learns that Luke is a violent, unstable manipulator.
This presents viewers with an unexpected plot twist that startlingly shifts the focus of the film.
Subsequently, Better Watch Out becomes a film about a troubled individual, Luke, that seeks to harm and manipulate others when given the opportunity.
Among those “others” are his babysitter, Ashley; her boyfriend, Ricky (Aleks Mikic); her ex-boyfriend, Jeremy (Dacre Montgomery); and his dangerously loyal best friend, Garrett.
Through its use of an antagonist that is essentially a child, the film manages to highlight an issue that is oftentimes, as a result of its inherently controversial nature, not portrayed by actors/actresses: psychopathy at a young age.
Luke involves Garrett in a series of illegal activities, fully aware that Garrett is willing to cross legal and moral boundaries.
That being said, it becomes increasingly evident that Luke only considers Garrett as an impressionable accomplice rather than a real friend.
Furthermore, although it may initially seem as if Luke intends for his romantic obsession, Ashley, to survive the night, viewers eventually realize that she may just be another victim on his list.
In regard to this latter example, viewers are presented with a reality that strongly asserts his level of psychopathy.
Although the character of Luke is particularly interesting, so is the character of Garrett.
Early into the film, Garrett is portrayed as a troublemaker that has the potential to negatively influence Luke; however, as the film progresses, he is revealed to be the one that is negatively influenced.
Though one cannot really argue that Garrett is void of issues, he does not seem to be an inherently “bad” person — especially not if he is compared to Luke.
Garrett is an undeniably devoted friend, and he clearly expresses his disapproval of his and Luke’s actions as the situation worsens.
But simply expressing his disapproval toward their actions is not enough; Garrett’s role as a reluctant accomplice and bystander ultimately contributes to Luke’s hostile environment, resulting in many irreversible consequences.
Pumpkin Rating & Conclusion
2.75 /5 Pumpkins
In spite of the unspoken requirement for viewers to suspend their disbelief, the strangely restrained inclusion of graphic images during some points of the film, and the unnecessary post-conclusion scene in the early credits, the overall plot of Better Watch Out, although somewhat flawed, is entertaining enough for a one-time viewing.
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Chris Peckover Twitter: @peckover
Image Reference: Variety