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DVD review: 'You're Next'

'You're Next'


Is it just me, or has there been a lack of slasher horror films over the last decade that weren't remakes, half-baked sequels, or lame, bloodless PG-13 snooze-fests that seek out young teens' money?

'You're Next'
'You're Next'

'You're Next' aims to buck that trend.

Crispian (A.J. Bowen) takes his girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson) to meet his entire family at a reunion in their remote vacation home. Of course his parents are there, but when the two brothers and one sister arrive along with a wife, a girlfriend and a boyfriend respectively, we begin to see the family dysfunction at work.

Things get really interesting when, during dinner, a crossbow bolt crashes through a window and kills one of the guests, sending everyone into a panic. From there, people get picked off one by one by a group of killers wearing animal masks.

Will anyone survive? What is really going on?

First off, the pacing of the movie is great. It doesn't take long at all for action to happen and it launches us into the middle of the home invasion at the center of the story in no time.

This differentiates itself from 'Funny Games' by being straightforward and not really concerned with making much real social commentary. It is much faster-paced and consistently suspenseful, even if it does incorporate a few cheap jump scares. In general, though, it's not really as scary as it probably could have been, especially once we find out the killers' motivation.

Unfortunately, the big reveal about the true nature of what is going on here is spoiled far too early in the story. It could have been milked for awhile longer. There is a little more to it than the big reveal, though, so that helps.

Expect some dark humor here, as well. We aren't talking about jokes being cracked, but some twisted perspectives and creative moments of happenstance occur to (kind of) lighten the mood.

One of the more impressive facets of this film is that it cost practically nothing to make by movie standards at a million dollars. Despite this, it looks fantastic and you wouldn't think to call it low budget. It goes to prove my theory that a good slasher movie can be made with very little money and resources as long as you have a clever director and a simple concept. Heck, the script doesn’t even have to be fantastic. This one sure isn’t.

As predicted, the acting is a mixed bag. Many of the characters are rather two dimensional, only really discernible by their response to the crisis. Very little information is given about most of these people. Characters act overly suspiciously, irrationally, catatonically or erratically all across the board. Perhaps these could be normal responses given the situation, but it explains away a lot of dumb behavior that accounts for a lot of the deaths. One character stands tall among everyone else in terms of resourcefulness. You’re hint is that it falls in line with many slasher conventions.

Special features include: a making of featurette, commentary, and a trailer.

'You're Next' is both better than most recent horror movies and a notch below all of the hype that surrounded it. There was a lot of care and knowledge that went into making this. Instead of obeying so many of the horror movie tropes, it would have been interesting if a few more of them had been subverted, but oh well.

If you like the genre, certainly check it out. They don’t make enough movies like this anymore.

Rated R 95 minutes 2014