You’re Next

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Posted August 22, 2013 by in

Rating

Total Score
 
 
 
 
 

3/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: horror
 
Director: Adam Wingard
 
MPAA Rating: R
 
Actors: Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen
 
Length: 95 minutes
 
Release Date: 8/23/2013
 
Studio: HanWay Films, Snoot Entertainment
 
 
What We Thought

Sly, subversive, and not at all what you’re expecting.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
As horror movies go, You’re Next is sly and subversive, and as such, it won’t be what you’re expecting from a home invasion movie.
     Crispian (AJ Bowen) and his girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson) visit his parents’ expansive vacation home deep in the woods, where Mr. and Mrs. Davison (Rob Moran and Barbara Crampton) will be celebrating their anniversary.  Crispian’s siblings and their significant others arrive as well.  As a family dinner erupts into an argument, a crossbow bolt comes through a window and hits one of the guests right in the head.  Escape is impossible, but what the Davisons don’t realize is that an intruder is already in the house.
     As the Davisons panic, Erin takes charge of the situation, making sure doors and windows are locked, and arming herself with knives, screwdrivers—anything she can use to defend herself from a trio of attackers, each of whom wears a mask:  Fox-Mask, Lamb-Mask, and Tiger-Mask.
     The attacker’s pale masks make for a few creepy images when they reveal themselves, but You’re Next leans heavier on violence and gore than suspense and atmosphere, so while it’s occasionally a gruesome, disturbing film, it isn’t an especially scary one—that’s what is expected going in, as the posters and trailers suggest something similar to 2008’s The Strangers.
     The style of You’re Next looks similar to The Strangers, with much hand-held camera work, and creepy, voyeuristic shots from the killers’ point-of-view.
     Other than Erin, You’re Next has the usual stock of dumb characters the genre is notorious for.  The Davisons leave the lights on, making themselves easy targets for the sniper outside, and they wander off by themselves, which is just begging to get killed in a movie like this.  The jump scares don’t get the startles they’re going for, and the way Drake (Joe Swanberg) walks around with a crossbow bolt sticking out of his back looks ridiculous.  The first half of You’re Next comes off as a bad horror film, one that’s trying to be scary and not succeeding.  Spoilers from here on, sort of.  Knowing the following won’t ruin the experience, however.  It will vastly improve it.
     You’re Next isn’t so much a bad horror film as a parody of bad horror films.  There’s a moment where Erin smashes one of the intruders head in with a meat tenderizer.  And smashes, and smashes, and keeps smashing.  It’s so excessive that it’s actually humorous.  Erin asks, “Do we know this guy?” “It’s kind of hard to tell…” one of the Davisons replies.  Only now in this moment does You’re Next wink at you, letting you know that you’re supposed to be laughing, and that all the stupidity that came before was supposed to be funny as well.  But by this point, it’s late in the film.
     Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, a broad, slapstick comedy, let us know right away that it was obviously a comedy.  Hell, the title alone tells you that.  You’re Next comes off more as a practical joke on the audience.  You might laugh at it, but the jokes on you.  It wants you to.  The sooner you figure that it’s just kidding, the sooner you’ll enjoy it for what is.
     There’s a funny gag where one of the intruders steps on a board with nails sticking out.  The board is stuck to him—it’s the kind of violent humor found in an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon.  One of Erin’s kills is so unique, so over-the-top, it’s hilarious, and too good to spoil by telling more.
     That’s where the subversion comes in. Horror films often feature a masked killer offing multiple, terrified people, usually women, often depicted as none-too-bright.  But in You’re Next, the real killer is Erin, a smart, resourceful woman offing multiple masked men.  She’s the one setting traps, lying in wait behind corners, gripping an axe with steel resolve.  The intruders are the ones at a disadvantage.  Again, You’re Next is not what you’re expecting.  That’s subversion, right there.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.

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