Thursday, December 7, 2017

Chris Peckover/Zach Kahn's BETTER WATCH OUT: a holiday babysitting movie for the ages

Yikes -- they just don't do this in movies! Well, now they do. In fact, there is maybe one film (I will not give away its name but it was made in 1956) with a similar theme in which some very bad things happen. Based upon a famous Broadway play, the Hollywood movie version, of course, had to futz around with the finale to make sure conventional justice was done. BETTER WATCH OUT, on the other hand, dispenses with just about all the rules of this particular game that you will have formerly viewed. And so well done is it that the movie becomes an instant classic among Christmas-themed, dark thrillers that also boast great comedic flair.

The conception of director/co-writer (with Zach Kahn) Chris Peckover, shown at right, the movie begins as your typical, if rather sexually interested babysitting movie featuring a fouler mouth than usual. (The film is R-rated, the reasons for which, as it moves further along, you will ever more fully understand.) This is a home invasion tale with a twist that, once it occurs, takes us into quite uncharted territory.

That's it for plot, folk. This one deserves utter no-spoiler respect, and I suspect its many fans will rightly refuse to disclose any secrets.

What I can say is that Better Watch Out has been cast to perfection, starting with that babysitter, the beautiful, poised and intelligent Australian actress, Olivia DeJonge (above and below) -- who is simply a knockout.

Her twelve-year-old charge is played by the angelic-looking young Aussie actor, Levi Miller (above, left, and below, right, who also played Peter in the ill-fated Pan), and Mr. Miller walks away with the movie. They don't give acting awards for films of this genre, but if they did, the kid would be a shoo-in. He is that extraordinary.

The rest of the cast is equally well chosen, from our hero's best friend, played by Ed Oxenbould (at left, above) to Aleks Mikic (below, right), who plays our heroine's current boyfriend, and Dacre Montgomery, who takes the role of her ex.

In the roles of our little sleepwalking cherub's parents are two more favorites: Patrick Warburton and Virginia Madsen (below, right). They're just fine, too. Everyone gets quite into the spirit of things here, and the result is a humdinger.

If you read some of the negative reviews, say, on the IMDB (critics were mostly bowled over by the film), you will find a sensibility that screams, "Wait! You just can't do something like this in a holiday/home-invasion movie!" (Unless you're Michael Haneke, of course.) But you can. And they have. And the result, as they say, is a lulu. Don't let this one get past you under any circumstance.

From WellGo Entertainment, and running a just-right 89 minutes, after a short but successful theatrical run, the movie hit DVD and Blu-ray this week -- for rental, purchase and, I believe VOD/streaming, as well. 

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