Rated: You’re Next – Blood, Gore, and Empty Promises

The Basics

At a remote, country estate, a wealthy couple are preparing to mark their 35th anniversary.  But once the family has assembled for celebrations, they house comes under brutal seige by masked assailants.  As the body count rises, the tables are suddenly turned when one of the party guests proves shockingly adept at playing the killers’ own game.

Director: Adam Wingard
Writer: Simon Barrett
Actors: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Ti West, A.J. Bowen, Wendy Glenn, Joe Swanberg, and Rob Moran

More of the Same

It would appear that what you save in budget you can easily make up for in advertising.  You’re Next relies very heavily upon it’s own hype because behind the curtain, not much else exists.  What is delivered is a barrage of violence, blood, gore, and every modern horror trope including the ones that make modern horror a fickle beast that rarely has anything solid to offer.

You’re Next starts off with a worthy first act, setting up the apparant lunacy lurking in the woods, giving the audience the briefest of glimpses of what horrors are about to descend upon the family.  While I can see the direction that writer Simon Barrett was heading with the script in the beginning, it blatantly appears that his efforts to keep the film (somewhat) grounded in reality proved meddlesome to the second and third acts.  And that’s the problem with reality.  It’s a harsh, exposing light to shine on the dramatic effort and it usually, to much dismay, voids the warranty.

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Horror-philes will certainly jump at the chance to see another slick home-invasion thriller, mainly just to see the carnage unfold, but what was marketed to be in the vein of Scream and even Funny Games, really comes off as a weaker entry in the home-invasion genre.  The film smacks of every major horror picture in the last ten years, but you can’t blame Wingard for stealing what works.  The problem was, he wasn’t the original thief…or even the eighth, ninth, or 10th.

Acknowledging that moviegoers have sat through seven Saws, three Hostels, High Tension and The Collector‘s Collection, going for the throat and eyes simply won’t cut it these days.  Ignoring this is an insult.  And while brutal carnage may satisfy the niche within audiences who can’t seem to quell their cinematic bloodlust, this will ultimately be the only purpose it serves, soon to be lost in the shuffle amidst personal horror libraries.

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The two things working for You’re Next are Adam Wingard’s deft editing which far surpases his direction, for which I blame the script.  And our unsuspecting hero who remains truly the only sympathetic and even likable character in the entire film.  Wingard cuts the film in such a way that each build grows quite masterfully.  This does wonders for creating some very impressive visuals and psychologically driven scenes.  Coupled with the intense and compelling sound editing and scoring, You’re Next delivers some rather tense moments that were very satisfying.  However even this cannot save the film from itself.  In the end, the entire ride becomes who you’re going to root for to die next and at whose hands and how bloodily they deserve it.  

That and being strangely aware of your appreciation for the Animals’ ability to use correct grammar in this day and age.

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While rife with black humor, entertaining moments, and a few jump scares, You’re Next ultimately misses the mark with some stupid characters, shoddy acting, and an ultimately juvenile premise that would seem at home in a high-schoolers notebook than on the big screen.  What could have played out, as many audiences will expect from the trailers and ads, was a psychological freak show, driving into the depths of madness as The Animals turn the tables on the Humans, with dark underpinnings of bloody survival, internal agony, and black humor mixed in.  What came forward was a product that simply falls short of nearly every expectation.

Did I enjoy You’re Next?  Absolutely, but that only comes from the horror fiend inside of me.  Will mass audiences enjoy this awkward amalgamation of yesterday’s horror?  Probably about as much as stepping on a nail trap.

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You’re Next is in theaters now and if you’ve seen it as well be sure to let us know your thoughts below!