Better Watch Out

Movie review by
Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media
Better Watch Out Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Violence, language, drinking in snarky, twisty thriller.
  • R
  • 2017
  • 89 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 9 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

It's not a message movie, but you could make the case that meticulous planning comes to fruition, and courage pays off to some degree.

Positive Role Models & Representations

One character is brave and smart and doesn't give up. But there are many other less-positive figures in the story.

Violence

On-screen killings, though the goriest stuff is left to the viewer's imagination (which actually could be more disturbing for some). Murder methods include shotgun blast, stabbing, and more. Also cruelty and torture. A woman's breast is groped against her will.

Sex

Some crude talk of sexual intent and a brief glimpse of non-explicit porn pages online.

Language

Frequent use of words including "f--k" (and its variants), "s--t," "ass," and more.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A teen and a 12-year-old drink champagne. Some pot smoking, including in a grotesque manner. A 12-year-old abuses prescription narcotics. A 12-year-old attempts to "roofie" a teen. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Better Watch Out is a Christmas-themed dark comedy/horror movie that's definitely not for younger viewers. While the grossest violence is left to the imagination (which could me more disturbing, frankly), plenty of terrible things happen on-screen, including death via shotgun blast, stabbing, and more, as well as cruelty and torture. There's also frequent strong language ("f--k," "s--t," and more), tween/teen drinking and drug use (a 12-year-old drinks, abuses narcotics, and tries to "roofie" a teen), and non-graphic sexuality. Bottom line? It's too intense and twisted for most young teens.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMikeGoop December 30, 2019

Okay If You Can Handle It

The film surprised me as I took my kid to see it. There was dark moments for sure, but nothing that tweens probably haven’t heard in your average middle school.... Continue reading
Adult Written byRarityfan2019 April 17, 2020

Santa!

Xmas thriller made for grown ups that grew up with the Home Alone clones in the 1990´s.
Teen, 13 years old Written byTank_Historian February 10, 2020

Amazing, but dark.

An amazing movie, and not graphic, but it's not for kids to think about. Ashley is a strong female character, but other than that, bad examples of what 12... Continue reading
Kid, 5 years old January 3, 2020

What's the story?

BETTER WATCH OUT starts as a teen romantic comedy, with 12-year-old Luke (Levi Miller) hoping to romance older teen babysitter Ashley (Olivia DeJonge, a ringer for a young Diane Kruger) before she moves away. But before long, it veers into home invasion/slasher territory, as someone may be watching them from outside. Then the twists start in earnest. 

Is it any good?

It's never too early for a Christmas-themed horror/thriller movie, if it's as original as this one. Better Watch Out shifts gears several times in some delightful ways, gleefully blurring into which genre it actually fits. "Delightful" might seem like a strange description for a film in which some truly hideous things happen -- including torture, murder, and assault -- but for those who go in for twisty, twisted, violent thrillers, the film likely has enough surprises to make it fun. Nice-girl teen babysitter Ashley is moving soon, but she welcomes the chance to care for 12-year-old Luke one more time in the family's cushy suburban neighborhood. Luke is about to put the moves on her when someone starts terrorizing them. To reveal more would ruin the experience; let's just say there's much more to the story than that. 

Better Watch Out's spins on a dime recall the Duplass brothers' underappreciated Baghead, though this film definitely aims for a more sinister kind of entertainment. It plays at times like a John Hughes movie remade by Eli Roth. There's a puckish humor beneath it all; director/co-writer Chris Peckover definitely maintains a meta-view of the genre(s) and keeps things moving entertainingly. Miller has collected a few awards for his lead performance, and DeJonge is very good in a role with more dimension than the usual damsel in distress. Better Watch Out isn't for kids, but for horror/thriller fans, it's a nice holiday surprise.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Better Watch Out's violence. How does it compare to other horror movies you've seen? When terrible things happen off camera, is that more or less upsetting than seeing them take place on-screen? Why? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Was Better Watch Out scarier, more effective, or more realistic than other films like it that you've seen? Why or why not?

  • How does the movie portray substance use/abuse? Is it glamorized? Do the characters face realistic consequences? Why is that important?

  • How does the movie play with what you've come to expect/anticipate from seeing other films in similar genres? Is that effective or is it confusing or annoying?

  • Some of the extreme actions taken by one of the characters aren't directly explained, but clues are given about that character's past. What are some of those clues? Did you think that was an effective way to reveal character, rather than having motivations explained out loud?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love horror and the holidays

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