Editor’s Notes: You’re Next opens in theaters on Friday, August 23rd. For an additional perspective on the film, please read Julian’s review.
Anticipation is boiling over for this horror home invasion hybrid, but is all the hype warranted? It seems like centuries ago when You’re Next earned huge buzz in the festival circuit after screening at both the Toronto International Film Festival as well as Fantastic Fest in Austin. Now, the film is finally being unleashed on the masses, but can it really be that shattering? The unapologetically ambiguous answer is both yes and no. Let’s look at why…
This bloody film becomes a romping murder spree as these mysterious skilled hunters relentlessly butcher innocent family members left and right.
The concept is familiar: a family gathers in a secluded home deep in the woods for a heated reunion (to put it mildly). Just as emotions run wild and the booze runs dry, an assault from masked maniacs begins. In an instant, the family is forced to set aside their grievances in order to survive. Turns out, they are about as good at survival as they are at reconciling old grudges. This bloody film becomes a romping murder spree as these mysterious skilled hunters relentlessly butcher innocent family members left and right. However, without giving too much away, one or two of the guests in the house have secrets of their own and about halfway through the film, the tables turn in an intriguingly genre bending way.
It is certainly fair to praise the film for its transcending qualities. There are choices made that clearly come from someone who understands the history of home invasion films and respects them enough to encourage evolution, instead of simply – and mean spiritedly – deconstructing them.
The scares, rest assured, can also be found in abundance. Though some of the tactics feel stale, and make one reminisce of days past when masters like Hooper and Craven constructed jumps worthy of jumping at, there are still echoes of freshness sprinkled throughout.
In terms of acting and writing, well to be frank, these were not the film’s strengths. Difficult expositional dialogue can be fine if the right mouth is taxed by it, unfortunately there were few performances up to the job. The result is some chuckling at moments when, presumably, no chuckling was intended. In turn, this breaks the tension and often takes its toll on the movie as a whole. After one audience member learns it’s okay to laugh inappropriately, the next jerk is all the more likely to indulge his funny bone too.
The film is great at offering a new angle on an old formula - a feat many films try, but more often then not don’t achieve.
Now, can we take a second to discuss the inclusion of satisfying violence? There are basically two kinds of violence you can have in a movie. One is shocking, but not in a fun way; for example, the brutal torture and rape of the young girls in Last House on the Left. When that kind of viciousness is depicted, rarely do you get a sense of silly entertainment. That’s not to say it’s not entertaining, but there’s something else at work, something of value in the brutality that perhaps lets us cope with the inexplicable violence we face everyday. The other kind of violence, which this film indulges in heavily, has a sense of goofy fun. Not only that, but you find yourself cheering on the bloodshed. This kind of slaughter is usually reserved solely for action films when your hero runs into a room with his/her guns-a-blazing and blows the heads off of countless henchmen. Please see any Schwarzenegger film from the 80s if you have any doubts. There’s little difference between Arnold in Commando and Jason in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter except that we’re supposed to be afraid of Jason. When you stand back, you realize that you are being tricked into celebrating violence, rather than being repulsed by it. This delicate and perilous line is finely tight roped by You’re Next, and honestly becomes a source of suspense in and of itself.
The film is great at offering a new angle on an old formula - a feat many films try, but more often then not don’t achieve. It’s a film about the cruelty endured and dished out in order to survive, the murder of remorse. It’s not perfect, but the smell of something fresh goes a long way in today’s stale cinema bakery.
[notification type=”star”]70/100 ~ GOOD. It’s a film about the cruelty endured and dished out in order to survive, the murder of remorse. It’s not perfect, but the smell of something fresh goes a long way in today’s stale cinema bakery.[/notification]