You're Next review

Banana Rating: 4 out of 5

You’re Next deb­uted at the Toronto Inter­na­tional Film Fest­ival in 2011, and then, noth­ing. Des­pite get­ting a good recep­tion at the fest­ival, it sat on a shelf for two years without a national or inter­na­tional release.

How­ever, that can some­times do won­ders for a movie. It gets people whis­per­ing, and raises ques­tions. Why exactly is it sat on that shelf? Is it just mired in some sort of legal wrangle? Maybe those fest­ival goers are wrong, and maybe the movie is so bad, that nobody knows what to do with it, other than torch it with a flamethrower.

Whatever the reas­ons, it’s here now. And the two-year wait has been good PR. It cer­tainly got me inter­ested, even though I wasn’t a big fan of Adam Wingard’s pre­vi­ous full length film, A Hor­rible Way To Die. That movie was dir­ec­ted on the basis that you get the cam­era crew smashed on Tequila Slam­mers, then set them loose. The res­ult being the cam­era drift­ing down­wards at the end of each scene, as the cam­era­man slumped to the floor in an alco­holic daze.

The Ripley of home invasion horror movies

Thank­fully, the woozy cam­era is absent in You’re Next, other than for a few scenes of out-and-out chaos. And even then, the action is much easier to keep a track of, which is a relief. Over­all, it feels like a much more accom­plished effort than A Hor­rible Way to Die, which erred towards the pre­ten­tious, that of a film school stu­dent try­ing way too hard.

You’re Next starts fairly slow, with half an hour of build up. We get a very rudi­ment­ary feel for who the char­ac­ters are, as they all meet for a big fam­ily din­ner in an isol­ated house: mum, dad, broth­ers, sis­ters, and their other halves. Most of them are there to act as can­non (or rather, axe and cross­bow) fod­der for three animal masked lun­at­ics who sud­denly show up. They look pretty cool and scary at the same time, and put me in mind of video game, Hot­line Miami.

Yep, it’s another home inva­sion hor­ror movie, along the lines of Them and The Strangers. It also takes inspir­a­tion from a few Wes Craven movies (with a pinch of Home Alone), where seem­ingly ordin­ary people prove to have greater resources and spirit than their attack­ers ever expec­ted. One of the girl­friends, played by Sharni Vin­son, gives as good as she gets. Vin­son is on fine form, prov­ing to be tough and clear-headed, yet still vul­ner­able. Out of all the char­ac­ters, you’ll find her’s is the one you root for the most. Despite the large cast, it’s near enough a one woman show. It’s great fun watch­ing her go toe-to-toe with the bad guys. She’s like the Ripley of home inva­sion hor­ror movies.

Refresh­ingly, we also get a clear motiv­a­tion for the attack bey­ond simple insan­ity. That motiv­a­tion isn’t revealed until nearer the end, and I’ll be hon­est, it’s a little hard to believe. Not because of the twist itself.  It's just a feel­ing that enough early ground­work hasn’t been done with the char­ac­ters to make it totally con­vin­cing. Regard­less, it fits the film’s tone which at times can be more com­ical than scary. It’s been com­pared to Scream in that respect, and whilst it’s not quite the same game changer (Scream came at a time when Hol­ly­wood seemed to have aban­doned hor­ror), that the attack­ers have a plan kept me watch­ing, curi­ous to know the out­come, and prob­ably feel­ing less grubby about watch­ing a film full of mind­less, bru­tal viol­ence for the sake of it.

If you take any­thing away from You’re Next, take this: you now have a new, cheap, Hal­loween cos­tume to wear. Just don’t start smear­ing mes­sages on win­dows in other people’s blood, and you’ll be golden.