There had been a lot of buzz surrounding director Adam Wingard's and writer Simon Barrett's ("V/H/S," "V/H/S/2," "The ABCs of Death") horror film "You're Next" leading up to its August 23 release. Debuting at Fantastic Fest nearly two years ago, early reviews for "You're Next" called the film "unpredictable" and that it even "restored faith in the horror genre." If you're a fan of horror, then this is something to get excited about. Unfortunately, "You're Next" falls extremely short of expectations and collapses under the weight of its own hype.
The title of the film appears in graphic detail during the opening scene which is traditional horror through and through as it features sex, violence, and a ton of blood. The Davison family is celebrating the 35th wedding anniversary of Paul (Rob Moran) and Aubrey (Barbara Crampton) and is having a little family reunion to celebrate. Included in the celebration are the adult children of Paul and Aubrey; Crispian (AJ Bowen), Drake (Joe Swanberg), Aimee (Amy Seimetz), and Felix (Nicholas Tucci) and their current companions Erin (Sharni Vinson), Kelly (Margaret Laney), Tariq (Ti West), and Zee (Wendy Glenn). With the celebration in the middle of nowhere, cell phone reception is scarce and it would take authorities hours to arrive if any sort of emergency occurred. So naturally, intruders wearing animal masks begin taking out the Davisons one by one all while ruining a perfectly good dinner.
Certain sequences in the film leave an incredible impact; usually when the actors aren't talking. The intruders wearing masks are much more menacing when you see them coming through a window in slow-motion carrying an axe or a crossbow. Seeing their reflection as you're looking through a window watching someone in the kitchen is genuinely creepy. The score is partially industrial as it utilizes sounds and noises more than anything else. Sometimes it works really well and helps establish the unsettling atmosphere of the film. Other times, it just gets annoying and you'll be sick of that song that repeats over and over again long before the end credits roll.
The characters are written so absent mindedly that it's on the verge of world record stupidity. The benefit is that it only makes each kill that much sweeter. There are also at least two jump scares that will legitimately make you leap out of your chair. The Erin character is really the only one that's worthwhile. It's always great to see a strong female in a horror film, but Erin takes it to an entirely different level. A certain kill involving a kitchen appliance will more than likely keep you talking, too.
The film is really disappointing otherwise. The way the characters are written is horrible. Their logic is really bad even by horror film standards. Running full speed at a closed door after intruders make it very well known that they're trying to kill you is the dumbest thing you could ever do and shoving the contents of an entire toolbox into someone's chest as a shocking reveal doesn't really fix things. Now the puns are flowing. The story is pretty poor, too. Without giving too much away, it's not nearly as unpredictable as people are saying it is. In fact, you can see where the story is going pretty clearly around the halfway point. The tells are in the actors faces.
The conversation at the dinner table involving Tariq being a filmmaker and Drake's feedback are ridiculous. It's party absurd, partly idiotic, and partly amusing. It's then followed by some of the most unbearable shaky camera moments to be featured in a film this year. It's like the entire sequence was filmed during a record breaking earthquake. The bickering amongst the family is awful and the women are so melodramatic that it's painful.
There was hope that "You're Next" was going to turn it around in its final act. The original "Saw" was extremely low budget and had some pretty terrible acting at times, but turned it around with a jaw-dropping finale. The anticipation built up for the film made “You’re Next” seem like this year’s “The Cabin in the Woods.” "You're Next" doesn't really follow through though. Its poor writing, bad acting, and stupidly predictable outcome ruin the few good things the film has going for it. There are hints of films like "Funny Games" and "The Strangers" in "You're Next," but it's more like "The Collection" in the sense that it's all gore and little else.
"You're Next" was released in theaters today, August 23.
Image Sources: aintitcool.com, joblo.com, aceshowbiz.com, iwantpop.com, bloody-disgusting.com, filmofilia.com