2016's Holiday Horror Film Better Watch Out Almost Ended Very Differently

Monday, 5 December 2022 21:45

With the arrival of December comes embracing the Christmas horror subgenre. When it's good, it's good. When it's bad, you still can't turn away. There's just something about the holidays going absolutely wrong that serves as both nightmare fuel and brilliant catharsis depending on the execution. It's why holiday horror film classics like "Black Christmas" and "Gremlins" still reign supreme on many of the Best Christmas horror lists to this day.In the case of Chris Peckover's "Better Watch Out," the Australian Christmas horror film is more than good, with its horrific subtext concerning toxic masculinity aging better with time. The film follows 17-year-old Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) who has been hired to babysit the 12-year-old boy you'll absolutely despise by the film's end, Luke (Levi Miller). Luke has a crush on Ashley and ropes his best friend into a misguided faux home-invasion plan to attempt to seduce the teen.Of course, the plan fails because staging a home invasion scenario to try to win anyone is poorly advised. That's when Levi's homicidal, incel sensibilities start to bubble to the surface. Things get a lot worse for everyone around him when he doesn't get his way.While "Better Watch Out" is a solid entry to the Christmas horror subgenre, its ending is left open enough for interpretation and for the possibility of a sequel. However, rather than the hopeful ending we got, the film could have ended a lot differently if they had kept screenwriter Zack Kahn's original ending.Rejection Of NihilismBack in 2017, one of the ways Chris Peckover promoted "Better Watch Out" was by taking to Reddit for an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session. Throughout the course of the session, he answered the majority of questions thrown his way. Of course, one of the questions was about the film's open ending that, to this day, still keeps fans wondering what's next for characters Ashley and Luke. "Zack's original ending was SUPER nihilistic," Peckover responded when asked about whether or not the film had other possible endings. "Very powerful, but I didn't want to put audiences through that kind of a downer. Maybe I'm too nice a guy." The ending wasn't the only thing that changed once Peckover got involved with the project. He shared with Screen Anarchy that the script underwent a substantial shift once he and Kahn started tackling re-writes:"The twist was still the same, but it was about 60 pages after and I thought what came after the twist was way more interesting, so we kind of flipped things around. We also added the character Garrett, who wasn't in the film originally. That brought a wonderful dynamic that wasn't there before. But from the very beginning, I thought the twist was a million dollar twist."The changes to the ending open up the conversation for possible sequels, with some suggesting a storyline similar to "Halloween II." Unfortunately, a sequel seems more unlikely as the years pass by.Why No Sequel?The potential for a "Better Watch Out" sequel was literally spelled out for anyone willing to tackle it. However, we've yet to see any sort of progress on a sequel thus far. Part of the reason is Chris Peckover's project schedule. During the Reddit AMA, Peckover revealed that his next project would be in the vein of a supernatural horror film. In 2019, we finally got a title and a synopsis for his next project titled "Limbo," which dives headfirst into the possession horror subgenre. The last we heard about the project was in February of 2020 right before COVID-19 hit, with no further updates since. However, that doesn't necessarily mean the film isn't happening.Another possible explanation for the lack of a sequel is more conjecture than anything else. Holiday horror standalones generally land better than expanding into a franchise. Screen Rant explained it best with their breakdown of the "Silent Night, Deadly Night" holiday horror franchise: To live up to the success of the original film means creating something of equal or better value. That pressure alone would be enough to dissuade anyone from trying. If interest still remains for a "Better Watch Out" sequel, maybe someone will come and snatch up the opportunity. Until then, all we can do is envision our own scenarios while we re-watch this modern holiday horror classic.Read this next: The 27 Best Christmas Horror Movies RankedThe post 2016's Holiday Horror Film Better Watch Out Almost Ended Very Differently appeared first on /Film.


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