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Blu-ray Review: 'You're Next'

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When trying to make a slasher film that takes on the genre from a “different angle” or “takes it to the next level,” the worst thing that those making it could do would be to make one that’s just like all the other forgettable entries in the genre. In their attempt to do something different, that’s exactly what director Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett have done with “You’re Next.” The basic premise of their film involves a family reunion of sorts as siblings and their boy/girlfriends come together at their parents’ house. Some of them clearly don’t get along, but that hardly matters when things go terribly wrong. They suddenly find themselves under attack from a group of maniacs that try to pick them off one by one, leading our characters to fend for themselves with whatever means they can.

This is another one of those films where it’s futile to put down any of the characters names (or their corresponding actors/actresses) because they hardly matter at all in the scheme of things. Then again, that’s something that applies even to the best of films in the slasher genre, but it just happens to apply even more to the bad ones. When people watch a film of this sort, they’re not looking for character development or Oscar-winning performances, but rather for thrills, chills, and enough plot to have them guessing as to the final outcome. It may leave you guessing, but sadly the thrills and chills are somewhat scarce throughout this brief 90-minute bloodbath.

The reason behind the attack is revealed about halfway through the film. I won’t reveal it here, but I will mention that it’s a rather disappointing “plot twist” (if you even want to call it that). The main thing it has going for it up to that point is the mystery of why these masked psychos are trying to kill everyone in this isolated house, but as soon as that reason is unmasked, things go downhill pretty quick, turning this into nothing that we haven’t already seen before. As a home invasion film, it’s somewhat reminiscent of “The Strangers,” but the reason that film worked so well was because the filmmakers didn’t feel the need to provide an explanation, making it all the more creepy. It just goes to show that sometimes having no explanation is better than trying to think of something clever. That’s not saying that’s what they should have done here, but they should have at least found a better spin on the material than what we’re eventually given.

Indeed, it’s hard to think of something new to do with this genre, and certainly not every slasher can be as smart as “The Cabin in the Woods” or “Scream,” but if they weren’t going to at least try something new (or at least come up with a better mid-way reveal), then why bother at all? Even “bad” slasher movies can be fun if done in an entertaining fashion (the “Friday the 13th” franchise is clear evidence of that), but “You’re Next” doesn’t go that route because the filmmakers mistakenly think they’re being clever with this bland tale.

Instead, we’re treated to the same tiresome bits we’ve seen many times before, including the standard characters of sub-human intelligence who’ve obviously never seen a single horror movie in their lives or have a single wit of intelligence about them and the lone survivor who actually does. Of course, it helps when they’ve grown up on a survivalist compound (no, I’m not joking. That’s the character’s actual background). Sadly, what we’re left with is a pretty forgettable film. It would have been nice had they elevated it in some way as they clearly stated was their intent, but with nothing here to differentiate it from the rest of its lower-class slasher brethren, there’s not much of a reason to bother with it.

Video/Audio:

“You’re Next” comes to Blu-ray in a 2.35:1, 1080p transfer of decent quality. This is a pretty dark film for the most part, but the picture doesn’t suffer for it, staying crisp and clear throughout the entire presentation. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is very soft, so you’ll have to turn it up quite a bit to hear the dialogue, but this is another one where you’ll have to be cautious while doing it because of the few jump scares featured throughout the film, which are very loud. Aside from that, the audio is satisfactory, leading to a good experience overall.

Special Features:

No Ordinary Home Invasion: The Making of You’re Next: A pretty good look behind the scenes, featuring interviews with the cast and crew discussing various elements of the project. It’s not incredibly in-depth, but it does provide several tidbits of interesting information. Worth a watch.

Audio Commentary with Director Adam Wingard and Writer Simon Barrett: A track featuring the director and writer discussing such things as how the project came to be and how it changed from the original script. They get a little distracted at certain points, but overall it’s a decent commentary.

Audio Commentary with Director Adam Wingard, Writer Simon Barrett, and Actors Sharni Vinson and Barbara Crampton: This second track features the director, writer, and two of the actors discussing far-less interesting parts of the film, leading to a commentary that’s not particularly worth listening to. You’re much better off with the director and writer’s solo track.

Conclusion:

Despite the decent quality and a pair of worthwhile extras, the film is simply not recommendable, and that makes all the difference. Instead of taking this chance to do something original with the slasher/home invasion genre, Wingard and Barrett have opted to retread familiar territory with their gorefest. It may be acceptable to those who aren’t looking for anything more than that, but if you were hoping for something different, you’re not going to find it here.

Score: 2.5/5

Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.

Recent Blu-ray/DVD releases: Star Trek: Enterprise - Season Three, Thanks for Sharing, Insidious: Chapter 2, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Elysium, The Hunt, Touchy Feely, The Rooftop, Drinking Buddies, Inpractical Jokers: Season One, Planes, Paranoia, The To Do List, Blackfish

Now playing in theaters: August: Osage County, Lone Survivor, The Wolf of Wall Street, Her, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Inside Llewyn Davis, American Hustle, Saving Mr. Banks, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Dallas Buyers Club

Also be sure to check out my lists of the Best and Worst Films of 2013.

Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.

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