Overview: A babysitter and a 12 year old face an unusual home invasion during the Christmas season. Storm Vision Entertainment; 2016; Not Rated; 85 minutes.
Twist: Safe Neighborhood is a tough movie to review because of the twist that occurs at the end of the first act. It is such a good twist that the only way to review it is to talk around it and be as vague as possible. Safe Neighborhood is ostensibly the story of a 17-year old babysitter, Ashley, played by Olivia Dejonge (The Visit), who is tasked with babysitting 12-year old Lucas, played by Levi Miller (Pan). Lucas is lovestruck with the older girl and, as she is leaving for college in a few days, decides that tonight, he’s going to make his move on her , which goes about as well as can be expected. While Lucas is trying and failing to woo Ashley, she is dealing with a pestering boyfriend who keeps wanting to come over. Just as you get settled into watching a sort of weird, awkward rom com, the prank calls begin, a brick goes crashing through the window and it’s clear that someone else is in the house.
Tension: Now, the home invasion turns out to be quite unusual but I can’t tell you more than that as the reveal is excellent. The surprise of this initial twist is compounded by a second one close on its heels that completely shifts the movie from thriller to horror as more people become involved and the body count rises. All the major players are fantastic and the three Aussie leads (Ed Oxenbould from The Visit plays Lucas’ friend who gets dragged into the whole thing) are utterly convincing as all-American kids enjoying an all-American Christmas in a movie filmed in Sydney during the summer.
Levi Miller does well as the Kevin McCallister type, all wide eyes and high-pitched, breaking voice but Dejonge is the standout as the final girl character who takes no shit from her male antagonists. The main villain is such the epitome of toxic masculinity that he could have just slithered out of a 4Chan post to explain to the world what women owe him and how Feminism is evil. The casting of this character is perfect and not something I want to spoil for you.
Overall: Currently, there are no trailers available for Safe Neighborhood but when they arrive, avoid them. Avoid other reviews. Avoid friends who have seen this movie before you. Go in blind and let the movie take you where it wants. This is something truly unpredictable that is full of tight, tense moments, and has something to say about men in the 21st Century, the way they see the world and the women who live in it.
Featured Image: Storm Vision Entertainment