Aki Vs. Evil: Better Watch Out – Safe Neighborhood = Safe Harbour for Psychos

This is only tangentially a Christmas movie, as it does happen at Christmas time, but the themes of the movie are not Christmas related. It does lend itself to explaining certain things about the environment, namely all the decorations used in the film.

This is spoiler territory. Actually, I’ll just capitalize that to make sure you see it: SPOILERS! In this case knowing the twist beforehand might actually affect your enjoyment of the film… SPOILERS!

Luke is kid who’s too old to have a babysitter at 12, but has one anyhow. He is also very infatuated with his regular babysitter, Ashley, who is five years his senior. As Ashley is going to move to another city, Luke decides to try to seduce her. Obviously, as he is twelve, these attempts are quite clumsy.

And here’s the major spoiler: While Luke did honestly try to manipulate a situation in which he could potentially seduce Ashley, he also had a plan B, which is to fake an intruder to the house in order to seem like a hero in Ashley’s eyes. For this purpose, he has recruited his friend, Garrett, who helps make the situation more chaotic.

This is where the Christmas comes in. Garrett moves a Santa Claus decoration around outside the house numerous times. That’s about it.

But here’s the other major spoiler: Luke was never going to let Ashley leave town. Since there was no way Luke would be able to stop the move, he had decided to stop this by simply killing Ashley and covering it up by placing the blame on Ashley’s ex-boyfriend. So, this is a movie about a 12-year-old psychopath, who has learned to avoid responsibility by lying.

I am not familiar with the various pick-up “artists” on the Internet directly, but I am somewhat familiar with their approach through certain video essayists, who have actually read and commented on the works of these people. Well, men, to be more precise. As far as I know, there isn’t a book for women about finding as many male sexual partners as possible. Anyhow, as I understand it, these books tend to approach women as objects. Having sex with them is a goal of its own, but these men don’t actually enjoy the act itself. Quite the opposite.

Luke’s approach is quite similar. Obviously, he is 12, so we don’t know (and I don’t really want to deliberate on this either) whether he would have enjoyed the act, but manipulating the situation is quite enough for him. Ashley as a person isn’t of interest to him. He just knows that Ashley is beautiful and popular in school, so he is just trying to be the 12-year-old version of a Magnificent Bastard (think Hans Gruber or Mickey Pearson from Gentlemen, although along many other words, this has lost meaning in recent years as it has been applied more and more leniently to various fictional characters).

The movie takes a kind of weird approach to Luke. Especially in the end. At this point we are fully aware that this is not the hero he tried to depict himself as earlier in the movie. Still, his final attempts at covering his tracks are presented as something exciting. I don’t think the movie really wants to be on his side, but on the other hand, it’s shot a little bit like he was in Home Alone (which is referenced in the dialogue earlier in the movie as well).

In the end, there doesn’t seem to be any limits to how low Luke is willing to go. He is planning on killing Ashley, but he also gets rid of Garrett on the smallest of excuses and kills Ashley’s current boyfriend as well as the ex-boyfriend he was going to blame everything on. To him, everything that goes wrong is someone elses fault. Possible negative repercessuions are not part of the equation, because he’s sure he is never going to face any.

Ashley is more of a generic movie heroine. She is beautiful and resourceful, which makes parts of the film a little bit tasteless cat-and-mouse game. After all, this isn’t nor is it supposed to be Sleuth or similar movie where two smart people try to outsmart each other. They are both smart, but one of them is evil and one of them seems to be good (at one point she tells Luke that she is a virgin, a sign of purity in these kinds of movies, which in itself is problematic).

The movie is in many ways distasteful in its worldview, but I do still enjoy it. Even while it would seem that Ashley has gained the upper hand in the very end (although apparently by pure chance, when this could have been an opportunity to show how she outsmarted Luke), the movie still sees this whole thing as a game and Luke is just about to make his next move. This is, of course, typical for horror movies. The villain gets back up one last time, but the way this movie approaches this situation just feels unempathic to Ashley, who is supposed to be our hero. Or at least should be our hero.

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