Wicked Wednesday: Better Watch Out (2016)

Has this year turned me into a grinch? Because I’ve disliked all three ‘Christmas’ horror movies I’ve watched this year.

Better Watch Out was recommended to me many times over the past couple of years. This was the year I finally got around to watching it after another co-worker told me to watch it (and it was on Amazon’s £1.99 sale). But unfortunately, this one…really made me angry.

It’s difficult to watch Better Watch Out without spoiling any of its plot twists. But the premise is essentially this: creepy prev 12-year-old has a crush on his babysitter and movie seeks to make the audience as uncomfortable as possible for 90 minutes. There is a home invasion of sorts. Though anyone who tells you this is a horror movie version of Home Alone is completely lying (though if anyone would like to make one, please do).

I love a movie villain that you love to hate. You certainly get that here. Though I’m not sure I loved to hate the villain, as much as I really couldn’t bare them. The young actor was incredibly good at making me feel both disgusted and angry.

My main issue with this movie is that it didn’t develop its characters beyond their basic tropes nor did it establish a strong motive. Even a simple additional line or two of dialogue could have sorted this. If the villain was really a psychopath, there really needed to be a final act to cement whatever it was we were supposed to believe about them. And no I don’t think the last bit was good enough.

Unfortunately, I also think this movie was a great disservice to our final girl. I wouldn’t even call her that. You know nothing about her, but still have to root for her. She’s never given an opportunity to take control beyond the first 20 minutes or so. Actually, I don’t think Ashley’s character at all fits the formula of the Final Girl.

Basically, if you enjoy watching a young woman get tortured for 90 minutes – this is for you! But Krista, you may hypothetically ask me, isn’t that what all horror movies do? Terrorise women?

Yes and no.

Usually, women have more agency in these movies. If anything, they’re at least given a chance to face their attacker for a final time. But here we have to settle for a half-hearted ‘twist’ that goes out like a fart. I mean, if we want her to lose, at least commit to it Omen style!

I do appreciate the film trying to tackle the “simp” trope (according to Dictionary.com, “slang insult for men who are seen as too attentive and submissive to women, especially out of a failed hope of winning some entitled sexual attention or activity from them”). It really had the groundwork to be great and satisfying. With a few tweaks, I think Better Watch Out could have been the classic it’s being presented as. Imagine if a woman would have been involved in the screenwriting or directing process. Lord almighty could that have changed things for the better. This could have been a really clever way of addressing the sinister side of women having to deal with ‘nice guys’ would have been really clever. But this film attempts none of that.

Anyway. My husband liked this. Not sure what that’s saying. Many people really like this one. So I really, really think I’m in a very small minority here. As I said before, I’m such a grinch this Christmas I just can’t wait to watch regular movies again.

If anything, there are two very bright points here that make this worth watching: the actors and those really tall door knobs.

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