by Evan Peterson
This Sunday, SHRIEK: Women of Horror presents our annual holiday party with Better Watch Out, a Christmastime killer thriller!
Some thoughts on the film and spoilers below.
Better Watch Out starts as a young adult Home Alone-type holiday film. Then it gets brutal. It’s probably the most brutal film we’ve shown for our annual holiday party (after Let the Right One In last December and Black Christmas the previous year). But if you like your ugly sweaters with a side of balls-to-the-wall horror, come out and celebrate with us.
A strangely intricate prank and a ploy to seduce the hot babysitter quickly escalate into kidnapping and murder. I wouldn’t call this one a “dark comedy” so much as a “zany but thoroughly disturbing.” Olivia DeJong plays Ashley, a 17-year-old babysitter who has a habit of finding the good in lousy boyfriends. She’s kind of saintly, to be honest—a bit of a Mary Sue final girl, but one that I’d gladly watch over and over again. Ashley is tasked with minding the twelve-year-old Luke (Levi Miller), who’s had a crush on her for years. He thinks he can convince her to have sex with him. What seemed to be a weird teen/tween sex comedy turns into home invasion and multiple murder in an affluent suburb.
A big theme of SHRIEK this year has been toxic masculinity. From the all-consuming revenge drive of I Saw the Devil (May, Crypticon) to the “stony” secrecy of grief in Pet Sematary (October, Naked City Brewery), we’ve explored several examples of the ways toxic masculinity blows up in the face of the man exhibiting it (while harming everyone around him).
For those unfamiliar with the term, it doesn’t describe all masculinity as toxic but rather the kind of so-called “manly” behavior taught to men and boys that involves harming themselves and others. Stalking and rape are certainly toxic behaviors (regardless of gender dynamics involved), but so is shaming someone for not taking risks with their health and well-being, calling them “weak.” The toxic masculinity of Better Watch Out starts as juvenile boasting and then explodes into psychological torture and gory murder. We look forward to discussing the complicity of many characters in this dynamic, and figuring out the answer to the question: Does Ashley get out alive? Baby, it’s cold outside.
SHRIEK: A Women of Horror Film Class presents Better Watch Out
Starring Olivia DeJong, Virginia Madsen, Levi Miller, Ed Oxenbould, Patrick Warburton
Directed by Chris Peckover
Screenplay by Zack Kahn and Chris Peckover
Subgenres: killer, home invasion, holiday slasher
Bechdel Test: Pass!
Blood & Gore: Plenty
Sexual Assault: Yes (a woman’s breast is groped while she’s bound)
Sunday, December 16, 2018
opening talk & screening 7:00pm
Hosted by Evan J. Peterson and Heather Marie Bartels
8564 Greenwood Ave N.
SHRIEK is a community class merging film with education and offering an accessible forum outside of academia. The goal is to offer low-cost opportunities to learn about film and women’s studies and to inspire more diverse filmmakers, especially women, to get involved as creators in the genre.