It really isn’t Christmas without a delightfully wicked festive horror movie to warm your cockles and chill your… cockles…

Over the last few decades, my usual go-to’s have been the wonderfully schlocky  Jack Frost 2: Revenge of the Mutant Killer Snowman and, of course, the utter classic that is  Gremlins. For what is the holiday season without Phoebe Cates regaling us of the year daddy never came home?

A few years ago, however, I stumbled across a new addition to my annual viewing in the delicious horror-comedy Better Watch Out.

At first glance, I assumed this was to be another naff little slasher to wile away the winter hours, but by the time the halfway point hit and things started to get just the right level of bat-shit crazy, I realised that this was to be a film I would be revisiting on an annual basis.

The set-up is simple, if not arguably cliched; mum and dad (Virginia Madsen and an always awesome Patrick Warburton) are off to a Christmas party, leaving young Luke (Levi Miller – the kid from that Peter Pan movie you’ve already forgotten about) in the care of sexy neighbour girl Ashley (Olivia DeLonge). The two settle in for a night of board-games and pizza when, predictably, things start going bump in the night and a masked intruder begins terrorising the house.

But therein lies the twist. For, in the Lerner household, all is not what it seems as the movie ingeniously begins to subvert expectations in a movie that lies somewhere between The Strangers and Home Alone with buckets of blood and some brilliantly black humour. There are also a few moments of genuine heartbreak as our characters begin to succumb to the masterplan of our Machiavellian villain.

It’s tricky to say more without giving the game away, but, if you haven’t seen it yet, Better Watch Out is a worthy addition to any film fan’s festive fiesta, delivering laughs and shocks in equal measure.

And if Levi Miller doesn’t go on to bigger and brighter things, I shall eat my santa hat!

Dir: Chris Peckover

Scr: Zack Kahn and Chris Peckover

Cast: Olivia DeJonge, Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould, Alex Mikic, DacreMontgomery, Virginia Madsen, Patrick Warburton

Prd: Sidone Abbene, Brion Hambel, Paul Jensen, Brett Thornquest

DoP: Carl Robertson

Country: USA

Run Time: 89mins


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