Grimmfest 2017 – Better Watch Out

A Christmas movie?? In October?? Grimmfest 2017’s Friday night turned festive for 90 minutes as the unexpectedly dark and twisted Better Watch Out was screened for us horror fans.

What began as a rather fun little home invasion style slasher film centring round a 12-year-old boy and his babysitter on a night during the festive holidays, Chris Peckover’s film takes a sociopathic and disturbing turn right in the middle and you are left in quite real horror from then until the credits roll.

A consistently darkly comical film, it is made great by its performances. Particularly Levi Miller and Olivia DeJonge as the two leads; made even more impressive by their young ages. The cast is rounded out by the likes of Ed Oxenbould (The Visit), Dacre Montgomery (2017’s Power Rangers), Patrick Warburton (Family Guy) and Virginia Madsen (Candyman), all of whom give perfectly good performances in their own right.

Christmas horror films are nearly always a fun time and Better Watch Out is no exception, using the carefree, joyful feeling of the festive season and turning it on its head. Hearing carollers singing ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Joy to the World’ while we know the violence is happening so close by will never not be an effective filmmaking tool.

It is absolutely the film’s twist that will ensure this one sticks in the memory though. Without it, Better Watch Out would have still been a perfectly fun slasher. But with it, and it being so unexpected, means you should definitely be putting Better Watch Out on your list of must watch festive horror films.

It seems like it would have been easy for the film to become silly after the twist and it certainly keeps the comedic elements that make you smile to begin with, but it is the performance of Levi Miller in particular that makes or breaks the film. If he is anything less than fully convincing in the latter half then the film doesn’t work.

Thankfully and happily, he is.

The film is likely to leave you with somewhat of an uncomfortable feeling and it’s difficult to explain why without delving into the dreaded ‘spoiler territory’, but it’s important to know that you’re not getting a run-of-the-mill slasher film with this one, even though it may seem like one at the start.

Better Watch Out tells you what to do right there in the title. Watch out!! You’ll not be getting an evil Santa or murderous snowmen in this one, you’ll be getting something a little bit more real, and the film deserves full credit for pulling that off.

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