You’re Next (2011)
★★ / ★★★★
It is the thirty-fifth anniversary of Aubrey and Paul (Barbara Crampton, Rob Moran) so they invite their grown kids to their vacation home, unaware that their neighbor next door was massacred the night before. Dinner is served and barely two minutes into what should have been a nice meal, an argument between brothers (AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg) explodes. As upset voices fill the room, a guest is hit by an arrow, shot by someone from outside.
“You’re Next,” written by Simon Barrett and directed by Adam Wingard, is slightly better than an average slasher flick for one reason: a final girl named Erin (Sharni Vinson) who is worth rooting for until the very last second. On the other hand, its premise, masked strangers terrorizing a family, is painfully standard. It only gets better when unexpected pitch-black humor, such as a line uttered by someone who is badly hurt, surfaces.
The first half is stronger than the latter half. I enjoyed watching panicked people running around the house as they try to gather the fact that someone outside wants to kill them. The material finds a few creative ways to move a group of people from one room to another despite an avid shooter picking off the weakest links. Here, the screams of terror works even though lines like, “We’re gonna die!” cheapen the moment a little bit. One of the most effective scenes involves Aubrey having a meltdown as she watches one of her children die.
But the star of the picture, appropriately, is the survivor. In horror movies, I always find it annoying when a whiny weakling makes it to the final act or, worse, survives. Erin is the antithesis of a dumb blonde who asks, “Is anyone there? …Hello?” while entering a dark room with no weapon—and no chance. Erin is tough mentally. She makes brisk movements. She is always looking around for whatever she can use to defend herself. She knows what to do with the weapons. She can be creative when resources are limited. Most importantly, she is given enough background to make the fight in her believable.
The masked murderers are not interesting at all. While we are given to understand their motivation, there is not much substance to them except to look sinister as their image is reflected on glass. The problem is that they are not as smart as the heroine. Still, some of the kills are inspired. I liked the one where a masked figure traps one of his victims, lying on the ground, and uses an ax as if he were playing crochet. Though one anticipates the crunching sound of a skull being split open, one still cannot help but flinch.
Those who make careless claims that “You’re Next” is innovative need to get their eyes checked—or watch more horror movies. It is entertaining during some parts and at times it falls completely flat due to the lack of energy and precise execution while tension is supposed to be escalating. We are given a good protagonist but the screenplay requires more work in order for the final product to be truly worthwhile.