3 StarsI admit harboring an aversion to the horror genre as a whole. Part of being a film critic is objective viewing, no matter the subject matter or genre. Still, I find it hard to sit through the typically moronic, redundant, and gory films that constitute the majority of today’s horror offerings. So, I was pleasantly surprised at just how entertaining and (relatively) smart You’re Next turned out to be. The trailers and TV ads have sold this as a ‘slasher’ flick, but in actuality it combines The Strangers and Cabin Fever, with a genuinely likable female lead, and a few curvy plot twists.
Paul and Aubrey, the monarch and matriarch of the Davidson family, are headed to their vacation home for an anniversary celebration with their children, and their children’s partners. The home is located in a secluded wooden area, it’s the kind of remote location where the nearest neighbor is over a mile away. Upon arriving at the dwelling, Paul (Rob Moran) notices that the front door isn’t locked. Everything seems copacetic and he quickly shrugs off the peculiarity. The arrival of middle son Crispin (A.J. Bowen) and his girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson), avert attention away from a series of creepy noises and thuds throughout the night. The next day eldest son Drake (Joe Swanberg) and his wife Kelly show-up, their snobbish and condescending attitudes rub everyone the wrong away almost immediately. Soon, daughter Aimee and her filmmaker boyfriend Tariq (Ti West) are on hand and not far behind is youngest son, Felix and his mysterious girlfriend Zee.
Now, with the entire family seated around the dinner table, a contentious conversation breaks out between brothers. The arguing nearly gets physical when an arrow comes crashing through the window and lands in the skull of Tariq. This sets off a series of gruesome, and well thought, cat and mouse game between killers and victims. In this case the intruders are equipped with sledgehammers, axes, knives, and in once case a crossbow. But what makes the invading group of murders that much more menacing, is the array of masks that each adorns. The striking image of a dark figure decked in swat type regalia with the face of a wolf is effective.
The bickering family dynamic is at first a bit jarring, especially amidst the killings and guerilla warfare inside the Davidson estate. However, the winning performances from the capable cast aids in toeing the line between horror-comedy and winking satire, You’re Next falls somewhere in the middle. The motives and identity of the villains is well-handled, as is Erin’s transformation from tag-along to protagonist. More horror movies like this, and less found-footage or torture porn garbage, is what the genre desperately needs to correct its current state.
Director: Adam Wingard
Stars: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Joe Swanberg