This is an appropriately mean-spirited, reasonably original, horror movie that’s lacking one major thing: gore. For the sort of thing Better Watch Out is going for, to work really well it needs to graphically show off inventive violence. It does not. Still, it’s one of the better entries into the scary Christmas sub-genre, which is populated mostly with dire stinkers along with the masterpiece that is Silent Night, Deadly Night.
The home invasion set-up is flipped on its head here in a way that’ll keep most viewers guessing. A lazy internet search will quickly result in spoiling a twist that comes early on, which I’d highly recommend you don’t do. While it’s front-loaded with the most interesting plot developments, there are some nice surprises later too.
Although some laughs are dotted throughout, it’s a bit of a stretch to call this a comedy/horror, as some are. It’s easy to strike dark funniness when juxtaposing carol singers and silly season decorations with nastiness and murder. Under the silly veneer, there is also the serious issue of callous male entitlement dealt with interestingly in Better Watch Out, in a way more timely than the filmmakers could have possibly imagined. For most viewers, however, such depth won’t be sought from this sort of throwaway genre piece and it certainly doesn’t hit you over the head with it.
It carries a restricted classification, and does show blood, but Better Watch Out frustrates by under-delivering with its all-important kill scenes. If it delivered on that front it would be fantastic, and with better pacing thrown in, could even be a modern classic. As it is, it’s simply an above-average, yet easily forgettable, horror flick.