Directed by Adam Wingard
Starring Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, AJ Bowen
You’re Next is a little indie horror film that wants to do a lot that it just doesn’t quite get done. Now, with that said the film strives for more than most higher budgeted horror films so that definitely means something.
In the movie Audrey and Paul, a snotty uptight wealthy couple, have purchased a large home in a desolate area to fix up as a retirement home. Paul will be retiring with a substantial amount of money so he’s actually not doing too much of the actual fixing up of the place according to one of his sons. The couple along with their three sons, their daughter, and all of their significant others are assembling at this new home for a reason that’s never really made clear. What they don’t know is that their neighbors have been brutally murdered.
Once all of the family is together around the dinner table it doesn’t take long for the fighting to begin. The indie roots of the filmmakers do come through brightly during one conversation about film and filmmaking that’s actually quite funny. As the fighting hits a feverish pitch an arrow breaks through one of the windows and kills a boyfriend then another and then another. Within the first several minutes of the film all of the characters have been set up and not one of them is likable or worth following to the end of the movie. In fact it hasn’t been since The Devil’s Rejects that I’ve rooted this desperately for the villains. Most horror films, especially weakly written ones, thrive on humans making really terrible decisions. In this movie the family members make some of the worst decisions I’ve ever seen put on film, and they still manage to survive. The reasons that these attempts at staying alive work are explained later but up until that point the movie just seems badly executed. There are several character moments that play out in a similar way: these people say and do things that just shouldn’t be so easily accepted by the rest of the family. Again, after about the halfway point things begin to well, not really make sense but they do seem more purposeful.
You’re Next takes quite a tonal turn after the halfway point of the film. These killers seem mysterious and the masks are without a doubt scary. The killers seem otherworldly or almost supernatural. At the halfway point when one of them speaks all of the mystique is ripped right away from this band of murderers. I was really disappointed at the tonal change at first but it quickly became apparent that the movie was just catching up with the viewers. In the first half we were laughing at really dumb lines and character moments, at the halfway point the movie starts to laugh with us. All along though the scare moments continue to work and the gore is completely on point. The utter campiness of the movie overall makes those moments have even more impact. It was a total blast watching this movie in the theater because the audience was completely interacting with the film in an old almost 70’s style with them feeling what was coming right before it happened and still being freaked out by it. Also, the score is great fun from the repeating track at the beginning of the film to the sudden John Carpenter-esque synth riffs during the last act of the film.
You’re Next makes a pretty weak attempt at social commentary by the way the characters are set up but it fails on that count. All I can say is that the filmmakers really hate defense contractors. To be fully honest the writing needed more work. A good writer could have set up the characters more successfully for later twists and turns in the plot without making the film feel like a writing failure for 30 minutes of the scant 86 minute run time. Even with all of the complaints it’s hard not to love this movie. You’re Next is the only grindhouse style movie experience we’re getting in theaters this year and it’s coming in an unrated cut which just doesn’t happen in theaters very often. It’s funny on purpose and accidentally and it’s pretty damn scary in parts. The film actually made me jump a couple of times and that just doesn’t happen very often.