I recreated Kevin’s brutal burglar traps in Home Alone – and was utterly horrified by what would happen in real-life | The Sun
15th December 2022

IT'S one of the most commonly-asked questions about a Christmas classic – is Home Alone really just about a sadist child who loves violence?

A new TV show fronted by James Acaster and Guz Khan believes so – having looked at whether anyone would be able to survive any of the traps Kevin McCallister sets for robbers Harry and Marv.


The presenters, along with engineer Zoe Laughlin, test what would happen if you touched a flaming door handle, took a paint can to the face or were electrocuted.

Spoiler alert: You would be unlikely to survive any of them.

The Sun headed down to the set of The Unofficial Science of Home Alone to witness these grisly pranks first-hand.

Then, Guz and James bravely tested them out after finding 'solutions' to walk away unharmed. Here's how they got on… gulp!

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Zip line smash


The first test when we arrived was the dreaded zip wire that Harry and Marv use to chase Kevin, before plunging into the wall when he cuts it with hedge clippers.

Strapping up a crash test dummy to a line nine metres above the ground, the engineers explain it's been stuffed with jelly-filled balloons to represent internal organs.

Once it’s sent down the zip wire at a speed of 28mph, Zoe, James and Guz open it up to see the damage. And it's not good.

Zoe says: “Over 50 per cent of balloons have burst, most have ruptured and one intact.

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“In reality, this would be cracked ribs, fractured limbs, punctured lungs, maybe loss of teeth, a cracked skull. You need more protection.”

She tells the boys: “The fact you even want to try [these stunts] is slightly foolhardy. To do these traps as you would see them in the film is incredibly dangerous.

“On scale of 1-10, I’d say they’re a 10, they’re lethal. Those traps are deadly.”

For this, Zoe said there's actually no solution, and it would involve certain death – despite the boys suggesting wrapping themselves in bubble wrap and falling on to a giant bouncy castle.

This is the only stunt they decide not to go ahead with properly, and go down the zip wire in tandem, with the line not cut.

Potential damage: Broken limbs, cracked ribs, damaged internal organs, punctured lungs, loss of teeth, cracked skull and almost certain death.

Solution: Make sure the wire doesn't get cut.

Paint can carnage


Next on the list was the infamous scene in which Kevin takes out first Marv, then Harry, on the staircase by swinging paint cans from the bannister.

Testing out the full force of the blows on a mannequin, producers tied up a tin that weighed 5kg before sending it flying at 17mph.

“The head was completely deformed,” one producer said. “The impact would be as if a three-tonne transit van was hitting you.”

It's one of the film's most dangerous stunts and Zoe admits the producers initially had reservations about letting James and Guz take the hit.

She says: “There were a lot of discussions before going in front of the camera where you're thinking, ‘I don't know, there's a lot of jeopardy here, this is genuinely dangerous. This is actually genuinely dangerous. Are you sure you want to do this?’"

James had the pleasure of attempting this one – although to the chest rather than the head, wearing just a pillow, baking tray and cricket pad for protection.

“There was something very visceral in the paint can where even if you're protected you still feel impact,” Zoe adds.

“I remember thinking when we were doing the tests with that, there's no way James isn't actually going to be just knocked off his feet still, so that felt quite high stakes.”

When James eventually goes through with the stunt, he's clearly taken back with force, but amazingly doesn't look in pain.

Potential damage if done on head: Cracked skull, brain damage, broken nose, loss of teeth, severe whiplash and possible death.

Potential damage if done on body: Broken ribs, Damaged internal organs, Ruptured spleen.

Solution: Pillow, cricket pads and a baking tray

Torched head


Last but not least is the hair-raising moment when Harry’s head gets set on fire by a blowtorch set up by Kevin.

In the show, Zoe, Guz and James set fire to a giant turkey wearing a woolly hat with a blowtorch at 1980°C.

They discover the damage is first degree burns, necrosis of the skull and, once again, possible death.

Guz has it done to him at the end of the show, wearing the insides of a nappy – covered in water – on his head under his hat.

Zoe explains: "The actual stuff that proper fire stunt people use is based on the contents of nappies.

"When you cut open a nappy, it's got the super absorbent polymer in, the same sort of stuff that's in a sanitary towel, and this super absorbent polymer, because it holds so much water, is protective."

For Zoe, that was the scariest trap they recreated.

She explains: “Things can just catch on fire, and there was something about that, it being so immediate, and it's on your head. 

“It's not just any old part of your body, so the risk there felt very high.”

Potential damage: First degree burns, collapsed skull, death.

Solution: Wearing a nappy on the head.

The Unofficial Science of Home Alone airs on Sunday on Sky Max at 9pm



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