Beaten to the Christmas punch by Netflix’ “The Babysitter”, “Better Watch Out” is the latest home inversion thriller to try to shake up the genre, a sort of festive slasher snow globe of adolescent toxic masculinity and entitlement.
In the snowy suburbs, a babysitter finds herself having to defend her twelve-year-old charge from a home invasion. But, as the night wears on, she discovers her troubles are far more sinister than a normal burglary.
Like its antagonist, “Better Watch Out” is nowhere near as clever as it thinks it is. The big twist is readily apparent from about ten minutes in and from then on, it struggles to take flight; a partridge that’s fallen from its pear tree and can’t get up. You’ll forgive, I hope, the festive flourishes of this review, but given the film’s seasonal trimmings are just that, cosmetic adornments to try to give the main plot some much-needed sparkle, I thought I’d best throw in a few crackers here and there. It’s like someone took this film to see the trolls from “Frozen”, but as they removed the magic, they forgot to leave the fun. With the Christmas setting all but peripheral and irrelevant, you’re left with a milquetoast psychological thriller that consistently makes the less interesting choice. The kills are humdrum and disappointingly pedestrian and the characters so unlikable as to render the whole thing somewhat tiresome. Of the cast, only Patrick Warburton and Virginia Madsen as the parents bring anything interesting to the screen and had the movie had more for them to do but bookend the story with their deliciously passive-aggressive marital détente, it might have lent a bit more substance to the rest of the sleazy shenanigans. As it is, this movie spends far too much time having its villain explain how they’re going to get away with everything they’re planning to do rather than actually doing it. Better watch out? You’d be better off watching something else.