You can almost track the horror genre like a stock. It continually goes up and down. Sometimes it remains down for such a long period of time that people start to talk about how the horror genre in film is “dead”. Then movies like “The Purge” and “The Conjuring” come along pumping much needed life into the horror industry and reminding studios how profitable those movies can become. There are also many sub-categories to horror and one of the most popular is the slasher movies. These usually involve a killer dispatching a group of victims in inventive and gory ways. There are not too many of these movies that get a theatrical distribution, they usually go direct to DVD. However, “You’re Next” is hitting theaters today, August 23, and it does not look like it will help convince studio execs to put out many more of these types of movies.
Step one to make a slasher movie, get that opening sex scene and female nudity out of the way. Check. Step two, have your victims in an isolated area where you killer can pick them off one by one. Check. Add a wrinkle if you can. Check. In "You're Next" The Davison family gathers for their parent's wedding anniversary only to find themselves under attack by a small group of animal masked killers. Another small twist to the story is instead of people being killed one by one while no one knows what is going on, everyone in the family knows what is happening right away and witness their loved ones murdered right before their eyes, turning this horror tale into the ultimate test of survival.
When the trailer to “You’re Next” came out in March, it looked like a really good, terrifying and bloody horror movie was coming our way this summer. We get some blood and some tension filled moments, but this movie is a dud, even by horror standards. Early on in the movie they try to establish that these are “smart” people, but it turns out the Davison gene pool are filled with anything but the brightest people! Some of the actions they take are very cringe worthy.
“You’re Next” will not be accused of breaking new ground in the slasher field. Most of the “scares” are pretty standard. You have your pop up scares, scares that come about because all of a sudden the music gets real loud, creaking doors that are opened very slowly and, of course, “Look out behind you” moments. Then there’s the killer point-of-view shots done by a handheld camera, so the picture is really shaky. One would hope that the movie would at least deliver some inventive kills along the way and with the exception of one or two; they’re mostly pretty basic and boring. The movie relies a lot on sound effects like a thick THAWK sound when someone gets stabbed. The filmmakers behind this movie have heavy horror resumes, but it appears everything they learned about making a horror movie came from ones they saw that were produced back in the 70s and 80s (the movie did have a 1970s horror movie feel to it).
There are laughs in “You’re Next” as any good horror movies needs some moments of levity. There are more laughs than you might expect from a horror movie. Some members of the audience who saw an advanced screening of it in Aventura thought the movie should be billed as a comedy. It’s hard to tell if all the humor in the movie is on purpose or accidental. Some moments in the movie, like the use of slow motion shots, the filmmakers had to be conscious that they were parodying the horror genre so everyone can get a good laugh. At least, one assumes that they did.
Horror movies are not known for doing great character development or witnessing a great performance from one of its actors and “You’re Next” follows suit in this respect. There are a lot of family members and chances are if you had to name them before they start dying, you’ll probably get a pretty low score. Some of the family dynamic is set up before everything goes to hell, but not too much that you care about any of them. This is not to suggest that all the performances were bad, just nothing noteworthy. The filmmakers wanted to get to the mayhem as soon as possible. For that, they can be forgiven.
There were high hopes for “You’re Next”, but it turns out to be another horror movie that plays to the lowest common denominator and then finds a way to lower the bar even more along the way. There’s still plenty of room for the slasher genre in your local theater. The are fans out there and if a good one is made they will come and tell their friends for a god scary time they HAVE to see the movie. Unfortunately, this movie does not fall into that category. It is rated R for strong bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity.