This isn’t a very long film, so it doesn’t warrant a very long review. Better Watch Out is a Christmas psychological horror film that tells the story of one terrifying night. Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) is a 17-year-old babysitter who is taking care of 12-year-old Luke (Levi Miller) when strange things start happening around the house. Phone lines cut and doors being left open tell Ashley that something isn’t quite right. Luke, who has a crush on Ashley tries to act tough in order to make her like him. After a brave attempt to stop the bad guys it is revealed that the whole thing was a prank of Luke’s design aided by his friend Garrett (Ed Oxenbould). But after the prank is revealed, things take a turn for the worse.
While I don’t mind these sorts of films I thought that Better Watch Out was just one in a crowd. While the film has an interesting take, it’s not anything I haven’t seen before. The three leads are all young Australian actors and they all do a great job in their respective roles. Admittedly it is a horror film and it’s not crucial that they can all act but it is nice to see them stick to their character and keep the audience invested. Levi Miller captured the 12-year-old manipulative psychopath very well when the character screams or yells sometimes his voice cracks (not sure if it was real or purposefully done but), it gave a reality to the character. The Christmas setting doesn’t do all that much to the actual storyline but it adds some little touches to a story that could only happen at Christmas.
While not scary at all, I felt that the film was a bit sadistic in parts and very much played on a horny 12-year-old boy not getting what he wants and turning to terrible things to get it. This could rub people the wrong way because of the ages of the characters. I didn’t mind the film but I wasn’t on board with some of the choices the characters made. That, however, did help with the way I felt about all of the characters in the film – uncomfortable.
Better Watch Out is an Australian-American co-production that features a lot of Australian actors. The director, Chris Peckover is an Australia-Canadian dual citizen and wanted to make a film outside of LA after his last film, Undocumented. This resulted in a decent horror film that is fun to watch but won’t be topping any ‘best of’ or ‘worst of’ lists for 2017.
Griff (Ryan Kwanten) is an office worker by day and a superhero by night. He has a very hi-tech set up in his apartment where he monitors the his suburb and fights off any wrongdoers and attackers. He has a Superman/Clark Kent sort of alter ego-ality (yes its now a word) where regular Griff is picked on at work and is very shy and incredibly awkward, while when he wears his suit he is the other extreme, he is strong and brave, he is Griff The Invisible (though the name is never revealed, he toys around with a few name ideas). His brother, Tim (Patrick Brammall) has moved from Adelaide to help out the troubled Griff. In the process he meets Melody (Maeve Dermody) and the two begin dating. But when Melody meets Griff she is immediately attracted to him and upon realising who he ‘really’ is she wishes to help him and become his sidekick. Unfortunately things take a turn for the worse and Griff has to look at himself and see if it’s time to grow up.
This movie is such a good and cute film. The character of Griff is so awkward you can’t help but fall in love with him. The tale is whimsical and charming, the acting is decent and usual for an Australian film. Unfortunately I have a bone to pick with others who have reviewed this film. It’s clear to me, through reviews, that some Australians are far too critical of this industry and have rated this movie poorly while it’s others from other countries that find it a very good movie. People are critical of the acting in these films but as I have noticed, people don’t like seeing themselves in film, Aussie films these days are almost mirror images of who we are and how we act. In fact I think they are very good representations of our way of life and encourage the Australian Film Industry to continue. Ryan Kwanten is a very successful actor in the states and has returned, in his breaks on True Blood, to do local films like Red Hill and Griff, again I applaud this move. This movie overall is sweet and is definitely one to see with your partner.
Now I am not a huge fan of the sadistic horror films but I had to see this one because it was Australian and it got a lot of good reception. The Loved Ones is about Brent (Xavier Samuel), a high school kid who six months prior to the end of school dance is involved in a car accident that kills his father. Brent’s girlfriend, Holly (Victoria Thaine) seemed to be his girlfriend at the time of the accident and at the time of the main story (although it’s not clear), she is very pretty and seems to be the perfect girl for a tortured soul like Brent. Enter Lola Stone (Robin McLeavy), the social outcast at school she asks Brent to the dance, he declines, saying he’s going with Holly. Lola gets angry and her psychopathic father (John Brumpton) kidnaps Brent and sets up the school dance from hell for his little “princess” and her new ‘toy’. Things go bad to worse when it turns out that the sadistic apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as Lola and her father brutally torture Brent and attempt to turn him into a lobotomised prisoner just like the ones she keeps under her trapdoor.
This film seems to tread an incredibly fine line as to what is entertainment and what is just down right insane. Never have I seen a seventeen(ish) year old girl be so deranged and demented. That being said Robin McLeavy is fantastic as Lola Stone and has been recognised by folks in the US for her acting ability (lets hope it’s acting, cause she scares the shit out of me!). The film was a financial flop taking in a small amount on the first weekend. But it has received very strong reviews from the many festivals it has screened at.
If you love immensely gory, incredibly insane, and (for want of a better phrase) completely fucked-up movie… this one is for you. If however you are weakhearted and the idea of hammering knives into peoples feet and power-drilling in to someones head makes you want to throw-up… perhaps watch something else.
Wasted on the Young is an Australian film from first time feature director Ben C. Lucas.
Wasted on the Young is a film that begins with a jumpy timeline, centring around the fateful party where Xandrie (Adelaide Clemens) is drugged and raped, while showing before, for example the meeting of Xandrie and the protagonist, Darren (Oliver Ackland) and after the party, where Xandrie wakes up traumatised on the beach. The rest of the film deals with the events that follow that night. In the end everyone is involved because as Xandrie says, “If you see something and do nothing, you’re not a witness… you’re an accomplice.” All hell breaks loose when Zack (Darren’s step-brother) (Alex Russell) believes he’s gotten away with what he did to Xandrie on the night of the party and decides to throw another party to keep his “loyal followers” entertained. Darren has other plans and seeks “justice” for the crimes Zack committed.
This movie has a heightened sense of reality, there are no adults present (with the exception of a teacher’s voice on one occasion) and so it gives you a feeling that there are only these young people in this world, almost a Lord of the Flies feeling. They rule and justice and punishment is handed down their way. It can be looked at as a reflection of the issues plaguing youth these days and in a world without adults, who knows, this could be the way things would be handled. The acting in Wasted on the Young is very strong, Adelaide Clemens handled her difficult role of Xandrie incredibly well. The character of Darren reminds me a lot of the character of Simon in the british tv series Misfits and Oliver Ackland struck a cord with me, he could resonate this rage-ful helplessness that really connected with me. The whole young unknown cast did a fantastic job of making this “parallel world” come to life.
Wasted on the Young’s techniques are what sets this apart from other Aussie films, is high-contrast, and exclusive and selective shots contribute to this feeling that something is wrong with this world, you can tell that it’s not quite real. The director, Ben C. Lucas has this film planned and executed perfectly. It really made me think if this was the world we live in today, would this be the end result, is life truly Wasted on the Young?