Going into a horror movie with an eclectic group of friends is always a good time. You’ve got your screamers, your cynics, your sadists who take pleasure in watching C-list actors get knifed to death, and even a few survival experts who yell profound proverbs of common sense at the screen. You’re Next offers a little something for each of these audience members, but actively keeps the survivalists busy by trying to save the on screen characters from the gruesome fate that even they should have seen coming from a mile away. Hey, even if it is a bit predictable, You’re Next entertains with heaps of dark humor, and a tense plot that is dripping with blood.
Going into the movie, the question on everyone’s mind was the same: “What is this movie about?” I seemed to have been the only one that saw the trailer, but all I could offer was “Its a home invasion movie…..with animal masks as the killer’s motif.”
My bland description was pretty much proven right within the first three minutes. Open to a nameless couple having sex. You already know what happens next. The man steps into the shower, leaves the girl alone to frolic around the house naked. Cut to the P.O.V. of a lurker in the woods, chick hears something, gets axed, man finds the words “You’re Next” written in her blood, killer pops out, display title. Yawn.
It might be difficult, but resist your urge to write the film off completely. It quickly gets better as we cut to main story line. Aubrey and Paul Davidson are an older couple who are celebrating their retirement and their 30th anniversary buy buying a lovely new home in the middle of the woods. We get a rather tense tour of the lovely home, complete with irritatingly shaky cameras, and Aubrey becomes paranoid that someone is in there with them. Its quickly dismissed however, when her children begin to arrive, bringing their wives/girlfriends/flings with them.
To them, its a family reunion. To us, its like watching sheep line up for the slaughter. They’ve actually gotten the family dynamics down to a believable level, allowing the audience to instantly relate to the characters. You’ve got your douchey overachiever, and his whiny wife. There’s the awkward middle child, bringing his foreign, pacifist girlfriend. The bubbly daddy’s girl brings her intellectual, film maker boyfriend. Finally, you’ve the young blacksheep of the family with his girlfriend who you just know is bad news (and probably has an S&M fetish.)
Once the family dynamics are established, they sit down to dinner in celebration of their happy family’s accomplishments. As expected, some drama is brought up, an argument breaks out, and then one of them takes an arrow to the head. Wait…what? As it turns out, there are uninvited guests at this dinner in the form of a few silent, stealthy, killers in adorable animal masks.
Emotions run high as the family tries to escape the attack. Parents watch in horror as their children are picked off in some truly gruesome ways, people die in the arms of their loved ones, and the survivors scramble to stay alive. All the while, the killers stay at a safe distance, heightening the tension. Although the deaths are instantly predictable, the editing keeps the audience in the loop, allowing us to know more than the characters. It keeps us one step ahead of the action, so we’re kind of in on the joke. This part of the film is wildly entertaining, and will keep you on the edge of your seat.
However, about half way through, the film takes on an unexpected turn. As it turns out, one of the family members is a better killer than the actual killers. A hero emerges, and throws the killers’ plot into chaos in a rather thrilling manner. On more than one occasion, audience members could be heard cheering for this renegade badass. The film then dives into deeper plots, taking a twisting and bloody road to arrive at an ending that ultimately satisfies.
You’re Next isn’t necessarily genius, but it does what it sets out to do; it entertains. You’ll laugh, you’ll scream, you’ll cringe, and you’ll definitely rally behind the hero. Coming out of the theater, audience reactions were mixed, but nobody seemed bored! Maybe the set up was a bit too predictable, but in the end, the punchline definitely pleases with its dark and sadistic humor.
Final Score: 3/5