Well, it’s time again for the Spooky Movie International Horror Film Festival at the AFI Silver Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland. Hard to believe this is the 12th year of the festival, which features a plethora of relatively new scary films each year – along with one or two older classics as well.
Opening the scares this year was Better Watch Out, directed by Chris Peckover and starring Olivia DeJonge (The Visit) as a babysitter watching a precocious 12-year-old named Luke (Levi Miller) while his parents (Virginia Madsen and Patrick Warburton) enjoy a night out of the house. Babysitter Ashley quickly finds herself in for more than just a night on the couch watching movies, as she has to deal with her young charge – who has long had a crush on his sitter – and then a home invasion.
But this ain’t no ordinary home invasion. I can’t tell you all more than that. I wish I could, but I really want you to watch this movie, and telling you more of the story would ruin the experience for you. There are a lot of surprises in this movie. Plenty of plausible but unpredictable twists. The movie is tightly plotted (by Peckover and Zack Kahn).
The performances are phenomenal, especially considering the ages and relative lack of experience of the leads. Miller, in particular, is a wonder to behold; his Luke shifts tone rather dramatically over the course of the movie, but his skills make the shift utterly believable and magical. There aren’t many adult actors who could pull off the characterization that Levi Miller does in this film.
Come for the intrigue of a vulnerable babysitter protecting her young charge but stay when that trope is turned completely upside down.