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You're Next - Review
As we move from summer to autumn, the inevitable slew of horror movies will begin to rear their heads. James Wan's The Conjuring provided us with a solid, if rather predictable, start and You're Next continues in a similar fashion.
Much like Ti West's House of the Devil, You're Next sets out to replicate the tone and style of '70s and '80s slasher movies. Whilst it doesn't go as far as House of the Devil in its attempt to pay homage to those earlier films, there's still plenty of little nods and winks to long-time horror fans. For starters, Ti West himself is the first casualty of the movie, as seen in the trailer, whilst scream queen Barbara Crampton plays the family matriarch.
You're Next's greatest strength is that it wastes no time setting itself up. Within the first twenty minutes we've been introduced to this wealthy extended family that have all come together to enjoy a family meal. It's clear that there's tensions, and that the majority are going to get butchered, and so, after some hit-and-miss broad characterization, director Adam Wingard gets to the important stuff: the thrills.
And to be perfectly clear that's what should be taken away from a film like You're Next. It sets out to entertain its audience with some old fashioned horror, accompanied by some healthy lashings of gore. Australian actress Sharni Vinson makes for a likable enough lead and her performance is solid, especially when you consider her only other major screen role, according to IMDB, was in Step Up 3D.
The rest of the cast are largely unimportant since they're basically there simply to die horribly. Occasionally, some of the cast come across as too snarky or helpless. One of the brothers in particular has "horrible death" written all over his forehead. What's more, there is an awkward section of the movie where the cast is still too large and some of them need to be culled a bit quicker. This leads to around twenty minutes of the movie being filled with mindless screaming from too many people as all hell breaks loose. In a sense that's the whole point, you have to remember that the film is always nodding to B-movies of the past, but there's the occasional moment where this just slips into awkward pacing.
Still, Wingard manages to maintain audience interest. The fact that the attack is completely unexpected makes for a somewhat intriguing hook, even if the twist is easy to see coming from a mile off. Home invasion movies are typically really predictable affairs, even by horror film standards, they're all essentially the same plot, tweaked ever so slightly as to avoid being a complete copy. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, and You're Next at the very least presents a more unique set-up, but the obvious story beats, and the fact that it's referencing past slasher flicks, means that the originality is a little pointless and potentially counter-productive to what the overall movie is trying to achieve.
What is surprising though, is the amount of comedy that is slipped in amongst all the bloody killings. This isn't a comedy film, nor is it quite a horror-comedy but the sly winks become increasingly apparent as the film progresses. The fact that many of the deaths involve ordinary household items brings to mind an adult version of Home Alone, while a lot of the film's downtime involves the survivors creating traps, in a potential reference to some of Wes Craven's movies.It's difficult to say whether the film would have been improved if it had jumped whole-heartedly into its more comical side. A lot of the film's best moments are a credit to its playfulness so maybe that could have worked out for the better.
All in all, You're Next is a good horror movie. It's completely unoriginal, but makes up for this with its sense of fun and appropriation of classic horror tropes. If Wingard's film is a sign of what to expect this winter, in terms of horror films, then good things may certainly be on the horizon. If however, that you're more interested in reminiscing on the glory days of '80s horror, stick with House of the Devil.
You're Next was released in theatres on August 23rd.
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