The animals will hunt you: ‘You’re Next’ fails to live up to its full potential

drafthouse.com In the latest horror flick, “You’re Next,” murderers wearing animal masks attack a family who is coming together after being apart for a long time to celebrate their parents’ anniversary.
drafthouse.com In the latest horror flick, “You’re Next,” murderers wearing animal masks attack a family who is coming together after being apart for a long time to celebrate their parents’ anniversary.

drafthouse.com
In the latest horror flick, “You’re Next,” murderers wearing animal masks attack a family who is coming together after being apart for a long time to celebrate their parents’ anniversary.

When it comes to the rating of a horror film, a review is kind of arbitrary. I mean, what do you base a review on? Epic kills? Creepy plot discoveries? Eerie moments in the big creepy house? The list is, in fact, limitless. There are so many great story elements that make a horror film. With this being said, director Adam Wingard has done his best to give us an original take on the classic home invasion and brutal slaughter aspect of horror. For the most part, I think he succeeds.

“You’re Next” follows a family who is coming together after time apart to celebrate its parents’ forthcoming wedding anniversary. Even with tension among the siblings, the whole family shows up. However, this dinner could prove to be the worst thing upon which they could have ever agreed. When the house is invaded, members of the family start to die at the hands of animal-masked murderers, whose mission is to annihilate this family. The remaining members of the family must rise together, despite their mixed feelings, and survive – even if that means becoming animals themselves.

The film has a mostly unknown cast, which is rarely a bad thing. In this case, that is definitely true. If there was ever to be one standout actor/actress from this movie, it would be the lovely Sharni Vinson. With such innocence and beauty, she displays multiple levels of intense aggression in her attempts to survive the attack.

Vinson plays Erin, a former college teaching assistant and love interest to one of the family’s older siblings, Crispian (played by AJ Bowen). Despite being at the wrong house at the wrong time, Vinson very much leads this cast. As a frightened bystander and former survivalist, Erin decides that she is going to live and starts to not only plan, but also execute attacks on the attackers. Not to give any spoilers, but one of her so-called kill traps serves a very messy fate for an unassuming character. For those of you who saw “Step Up 3D,” you will remember Vinson as Natalie; however, I must caution you if you were fond of this past character, you will find yourself noticing quite a difference this time around. This woman brings a whole new level to getting your butt kicked by a girl.

As far as the rest of the cast, there is really no standout in the acting. Rob Moran and former scream queen Barbara Crampton take on the roles of the parents. Crampton, of course, shows us what it takes to be a scream queen, and Moran is not half bad in a film of this magnitude.

The rest of the family is pretty much your typical, bickering family full of lowlifes and wimps. However, the oldest sibling, Drake (played by Joe Swanberg), provides a great deal of comic relief throughout the film. Let’s be honest, all horror films have to have a level of comedy. As far as our murderous intruders, their choice of weaponry is definitely a statement to their brutality in the film. With axes, machetes and crossbows, they offer the animalistic nature around which the film is built.

Wingard is definitely a fan of classic horror movies. You can see this through the many nods to classic horror films. Some of these nods include films like Wes Craven’s “The Last House on the Left” and Fred Walton’s “When a Stranger Calls.” Wingard, along with his writer, Simon Barnett, had a big task to accomplish. That task was to make something new and interesting to a very old spectrum of viewers, who have been spoiled on gory kills, thanks to the “Saw” series. Through a truly dark and twisted script, Wingard and Barnett sought to show what fear looks like deep down when you are being hunted in your own home. Throughout the film, these characters are put through the emotional, proverbial wringer as they bare witness to the ones they love most being butchered like cattle.

As a film lover, I often go to the cinema like most people and want to talk about what I really enjoyed about the movie I just saw.

With “You’re Next,” the cast and crew clearly upped the stakes in the home invasion category of horror movies.

The savagery of the murders throughout the film is brutal and the murders themselves are very well executed (pardon the pun).

Now, before you think I am some kind of psycho, allow me to explain myself. Enough time is given in between each kill in the film to give the viewer hope to see a certain character’s fate. When it comes time to kill off the character, the choice of weapon reflects their character’s personality. For example: Bolt to the head = quick kill, axe to the face = a brutal statement.

The gore of each kill is also the way you want it. They are not too gory but show just enough to give you a clear image. Casting Vinson is a great decision. She is definitely going places in Hollywood.

Now, for the part I never like, what I didn’t like in the film. My reasoning for this is because I don’t go to movies to hate on them. However, “You’re Next” is not a film without flaws. One of the biggest setbacks for this film is that we want to relate to this family, but there is so much hatred and secrets within the group that you can never get a clear indicator of who they really are. They are too complicated, as film families go. If there were some flashbacks to their past, maybe this wouldn’t be an issue, but it is. The reasoning behind the attack is very predictable. This does not necessarily take away from the film, but it is kind of a bummer. At times, there is too much humor buried within the seriousness of the film; this makes the intruders look like the ones from the “Home Alone” film series. It is hard to take them seriously when they act like buffoons being beaten by a child.

With a great concept of a classic horror element, startling suspense and a great movie in the making, I am giving “You’re Next” 2.5 out of 5 stars. Check this film out at your local cinema here in Murray. And remember, as the legendary director, Wes Craven, once said, “The first monster you have to scare the audience with is yourself.”

 

Story by John Gruccio, Contributing Writer