film reel image

film reel image

Monday, September 30, 2013

You're Next 2011 * * * Stars

Director: Adam Wingard
Year: 2011
Rated: R
Rating: * * * Stars
Cast: Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen

With smidgens of background music straight out of a 1980's John Hughes film and villains with a penchant for killing defenseless human beings by way of crossbows, You're Next exhibits a new and fresh perspective on the horror/slasher genre. Now I'm saying this based on my observation of the movie's second half. The last 45 minutes surprised me and I consider them very effective. The first half, well it resembles one of the weaker Friday the 13th sequels coupled with residue from the meaningless pile of junk that is The Strangers (2008) ("Next" plays like a wiser, more intelligent version of said movie). At 96 fast paced minutes, You're Next isn't monumentally scary. In fact, it's a horror flick that plays more like a thriller. Does that make it less palatable? No way. Truth be told, this is an exercise that delivers a couple of nifty twists and turns that help it rise above the ordinary. And you know what, I couldn't recommend You're Next without them. I can't however, divulge who the character is that turns out to be the reluctant heroine. If you choose to take in a viewing, you'll find out for yourself that this person is a true survivalist that kinda came out of nowhere. And as the perceptive critic that I always try to be, I initially didn't pick up on it.

Harboring a cast that I didn't know from Adam and taking place in I figured the middle of nowhere (of course), You're Next has a premise that goes like this: A rich family consisting of a husband, wife, and four children (all with significant others) venture out to a remote vacation home (it's not revealed where but I found out that filming took place in Columbia, Missouri) for a sort of rekindling (the vibe I get is that they haven't seen each other in quite some time). This family (last name Davison) doesn't know it yet but they are being watched and are to be eventually hunted down by henchman wearing creepy masks that resemble, I guess, bunny rabbits. What begins from that moment on is a relentless rush of terror that doesn't let up. If you like the sight of blood, "Next" will not disappoint. After I left the theater, I wondered budget wise, how much money was shelled out for all those gallons of red dye corn syrup.

Despite that fact that this flick works, there is still something that kinda irked me about You're Next: The antagonists are revealed to not be psychopaths but strictly contract killers (hired to kill and collect a sizable amount of money). If this is the case, then why do they go out of their way to taut their victims (why do they care, it's a business transaction). An example would be writing in blood "You're Next" (the film's title) on a mirror after a routine offing of a neighbor. Another example would be the act of the killers tilting their head Michael Myers style (you know the dude from Halloween) after the umpteenth victim lies dying on the floor. Oh and don't get me started on the fact that they let a song play over and over on a CD player while a corpse sits lying in a chair. Seriously? If you're going to do that, at least play a song worthy of listening to (the tune on repeat sounded like a guy trying to imitate David Bowie, nice try).

When it's all said and done though, You're Next has some decent acting (much better than your standard horror fare with virtual unknowns in the cast), satisfying direction for most of the way (there are some scenes with a sizable amount of jittery camerawork that I could've done without), and an effective 180 degree turn in terms of what you thought you knew about some of the characters. Then there's the ending. It's been done a few times before with other films of this nature. It's equal parts disturbing and funny here. Overall, this is not a horror classic that's going to set the world on fire, but it succeeds in trying to add a spark to what I believe to be, a tiring, over-the-hill genre of filmmaking. Regardless, this gets a recommendation from me and it's the "next" movie you should take in during these dog days of August.

Written by Jesse Burleson


  1. I still gotta catch this one!!!!!

  2. I gotta say it surprised me. I thought it was gonna be just another horror flick. the second half was much better than the first half