Home Alone

‘Home Alone’ Has Inspired Some Dark and Demented Movies

The premise of Home Alone is inherently grim. A 10-year-old boy gets left alone in his house and is forced to defend the property, and himself, from robbers. If the comedic family-friendly elements were removed, it’d essentially be a home invasion movie about criminals terrorizing a child. And don’t even get me started on the basement furnace and themes of parental neglect.

Unsurprisingly, then, some filmmakers have embraced Home Alone’s darker qualities and presented more twisted takes on the premise. Most of these movies are about children being stuck at home and forced to contend with bad guys who are more demented than the Wet Bandits. But, as this list will reveal, some creative types have explored other directions.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of those messed up films that probably wouldn’t exist without Home Alone.

Deadly Games (1989)

John Hughes probably wasn’t aware of this French Christmas horror movie when he conceived the idea for Home Alone. At the same time, it is also possible that he was a connoisseur of unknown European films and decided to make his own family-friendly version of René Manzor’s Deadly Games. You never know.

This one makes the list because it’s the best demented Home Alone riff out there. The film follows a nine-year-old boy who must fight for survival when Santa Claus shows up at his house, murders his dog, and tries to claim his life as well. This involves the child setting traps all over his house in an effort to protect himself and his grandpa from the homicidal Saint Nick. But the kid also thinks he’s John Rambo and is more than up to the task.

Most of the movies on this list adopt the “Home Alone but as a horror movie” mindset. Deadly Games, however, started this trend before the 1990 Christmas classic came along and inspired spooky filmmakers in its own right. It’s a great little flick that deserves more recognition. While the film predates Home Alone, I needed an excuse to mention it.

The Aggression Scale (2012)

Steven C. Miller is perhaps best known for DTV action movies featuring the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Nicolas Cage and Bruce Willis. The Aggression Scale, however, is the film that put him on the map back when he was trying to catch a break.

The story revolves around a child with anger issues who must protect his home after ruthless gangsters arrive to retrieve their boss man’s money. Unfortunately for the goons, they mess with the wrong child. He builds weapons for fun and has no problem using them. If the kid didn’t have criminals to pick off, he’d probably end up lashing out at society down the line.

The Aggression Scale isn’t perfect, but it’s a fun movie that boasts some violent setpieces and a wicked antihero protagonist. It also features the great Ray Wise, who’s always a welcome and comforting presence. Even when he plays evil crime lords.

Better Watch Out (2016)

Better Watch Out reworks the Home Alone concept quite a bit, but it’s still indebted to the Christmas classic. In fact, Chris Peckover and Zack Kahn’s slice of festive fright fare even features a wonderful homage to Home Alone’s paint can scene. Only, in this movie, the outcome is much bloodier.

Better Watch Out follows a pair of 12-year-old brats who decide to unleash mayhem on a babysitter and her boyfriend. Why? Because the little morons develop the hots for the babysitter and think that makes them entitled to her. But she isn’t willing to let the sociopaths have their way and chaos ensues.

While the film features some pitch-black comedy, it’s mostly a sinister affair that explores the worst elements of human nature. The performances are great across the board, and young Levi Miller plays a villain for the ages as the main monster child. I wanted this young lad to croak it while I was watching the film, but that’s a testament to Miller’s acting ability.

Knuckleball (2018)

The title of this movie suggests a sports-related and lighthearted premise. It isn’t. Knuckleball, from collaborators Michael Peterson and Kevin Cockle, is a mean survival thriller that takes place in a cold isolated farmhouse.

The story follows a young boy who gets left alone with his estranged grandfather. The child initially isn’t happy about having to spend time with a cranky old man in the middle of nowhere. Of course, the lad is even less thrilled when the old-timer dies and the psychotic neighbour shows up to cause trouble.

Knuckleball eschews the creative violence of other Home Alone horror movies in favour of unrelenting tension and atmosphere. Much like the 1990 holiday caper, however, it’s a film that’s interested in dysfunctional family drama resulting in chaos.

Rambo: Last Blood (2019)

The final entry in the Rambo franchise (for now) is a cross-pollination of Taken and Home Alone. It’s a bizarre mix that works quite well.

The first half of Rambo: Last Blood sees Sly Stallone’s titular PSTD-stricken war veteran, John Rambo, enter Mexico City’s heart of darkness to rescue a loved one from a human trafficking operation. Things turn nasty as he pummels through criminals like a human steamroller, fuelled by the darkness that inhabits his soul.

The second part, on the other hand, sees the ex-soldier ward off vengeful cartel members who show up at his farm to unleash havoc. Knowing that they’ll arrive eventually, Rambo prepares traps and turns his property in a maze of death. The final third is basically Home Alone on steroids, anchored around a grizzled 74-year-old man. As opposed to a wisecracking youngster.

Becky (2020)

Becky isn’t a movie that sets out to rewrite the formula that applies to most of the movies on this list. However, it’s arguably the most cathartic as it revolves around a bratty girl disposing of escaped Nazi convicts in gruesome ways. It was a smart movie to release in 2020, a year in which racism is at the forefront of society’s worst ills.

Another interesting element is seeing King of Queens star Kevin James in a rare villainous role. While Becky doesn’t completely remove him from his comedic comfort zone, it’s refreshing to see him play a despicable scumbag for a change. Here’s hoping that he continues to mix up his roles whenever he isn’t making some serious bank from Adam Sandler projects.

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