It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s another slasher film! Or is it? I’ll admit, when I first saw the trailer for You’re Next, I thought it looked rather generic. The trailer is not very revealing of the story the film tells, maybe to a fault. What interested me, however, was that You’re Next is an independently-made film which has been shelved for nearly two years. The film is a result of an association between HanWay Films and Snoot Entertainment, and in 2011, Lionsgate acquired the distributing rights to the film, and it has finally hit theaters.
Let it be known I am a horror movie fanatic. I love everything the horror movie provides: excitement, fear, a sense of life, tension, naked women…er, let me just delete that…my backspace won’t work…F#%$! I am however, a little hard to scare, so when I hear wind of a good horror movie, I get as antsy as Alex Rodriguez at a Madonna concert (my obligatory bad joke for the day).
So after a two year wait, was You’re Next worth it? Well, yeah. You’re Next was an entertaining, exciting, and sometimes thrilling ride that is not much of a horror movie, but is more like a sick version of Home Alone. The film does play on some horror stereotypes, has plenty of gore, and some tongue in cheek humor to back it up. Although the film has a few loose ends, You’re Next holds up as an exciting ride that may scare you a few good times.
The film tells the story of a family reunion in, get this, a house setback from the outside world. The Davison family is, ahem, celebrating the 35th wedding anniversary of their parents in their new retirement home. As the night grows older, mayhem quickly ensues, as the family is under attack by ruthless murderers dawning the masks of animals. (Fox, Lamb, Cat.) The family must gather their sanity and save each other, as the killers aim to take each of them out one-by-one.
The film is directed by Adam Wingard, who partially directed V/H/S, and he brings a fun and satirical style of direction into the film that makes it feel refreshing from the start. A notable plus for the film is the lack of exposition, or not too much of it at least. The killing starts relatively early, and we get to learn about the characters through their actions and reactions to the situation they all become a part of. The film rarely drags, and takes some interesting risks along the way.
The film includes many unknowns. I, myself, realized the bartender from Dumb and Dumber is actually the father in the film, and was just waiting for him to say, “she has dinner here!” Also, famed independent horror filmmaker Ti West is cast in the film, and it is nice to see him in front of the camera this time. The film also certainly benefits from some energetic performances, most notably by Joe Swanberg, whose character Drake is a snarky, condescending member of the family who becomes likable after a few minutes on screen. For the most part, the actors do a fine job in mixing fear of the macabre and ironic humor into their performances. The challenge of acting through such a multi-tonal script is definitely not easy, and most of the actors pull it off seamlessly.
Finally, You’re Next works in some tongue in cheek humor, surprises, and twists of the horror genre. This is something that I really appreciate in horror films. When they know they’re doing something cliche, if they can at least tell the audience, “yes, we know that’s stupid,” the gag can work in a funny and thrilling way. (Look at Scream or Cabin In The Woods to reference such film behavior.) The film also explores gender roles in the horror genre, and this time gives an interesting backstory to the SPOILERS-ISH….female heroine. All of these aspects work together to make an enjoyable experience for the audience, although the film is not without a few faults.
The camerawork is unnecessarily shaky at times. Sure, it is supposed to match the hectic tone of the scene and unsettle the viewer, but a little coherence wouldn’t be so bad every now and then either. Also, I don’t hate the gore factor, but I have grown a little tired of the over-the-top “beat his head into mush” aspect of many horror movies; and You’re Next plays with this. Lastly, I was a bit unsatisfied with how certain characters finished their arc. A big question I had about certain issues was, “okay, but why?” There seemed to be a slight lack of exploration into a few things that could have made the plot just a bit clearer. Other than that, You’re Next was fun!
Although You’re Next was not “really, really scary,” it was a fun time. The film is full of energy, terror, tension, and excitement. The performances are fun, the direction is appropriate, and the writing is self-aware. More independent horror films should perhaps be given a chance, perhaps Ti West should get a shot at the big screen. I still can’t believe Lionsgate let Trick ‘r Treat go straight to DVD, honestly. If you love horror, violence, screaming, and guts, go see You’re Next; you just might have a good time!
You’re Next’s Grade: B-