You’re Next is not really all that scary, but where it finds its charm is in the fact it expects and wants you to laugh at and with it. It’s a gory little riff on a home invasion story a la The Strangers with a dose of Home Alone and When a Stranger Calls with the familiar, badass female survivor trope at its core. And all of this works in its favor, ultimately delivering a fun, if disposable horror entry worth a matinee ticket.
The hard part is getting into the story because this film isn’t boasting a wealth of acting talent as director Adam Wingard (V/H/S) does what he can with what he’s given, but only his lead actress, Sharni Vinson, comes through unscathed of those that live longer than 20 minutes.
The story revolves around the Davison family reunion at a secluded vacation house in the woods and never before have you met a family so deserving of being killed than this one. Mom and dad (Barbara Crampton and Rob Moran) set the tone reading lines as if the battery power on their brains is dying and joining them are their sons — Nicholas Tucci as Felix, Joe Swanberg as Drake and AJ Bowen as Crispian — their daugher Aimee (Seimetz) along with their significant others — Wendy Glenn as Zee, Margaret Laney as Kelly, Vinson as Erin and Ti West as Tariq. Yes, it’s a full house and a lot of people are going to die as this not-so-happy household sits down for dinner.
Soon, arrows from a crossbow slam through the windows. One of the characters takes one to the head, another to the back. The house is under attack and the assailants are wearing fox, tiger and lamb masks. As people continue to be picked off, subtle (or not-so-subtle, really) hints are dropped as to why this is happening while Vinson’s Erin proves to be the one up to the task to protecting the members of the family.
Each and every twist in the story comes with a tongue-in-cheek jab at the genre in which the film exists. The moment the film sort of beats you over the head with the fact you had better be laughing comes as one character takes a running start at the front door in an attempt to escape and find help. Captured in slow motion and accompanied by, “Hold the doors closed until the very last second, they won’t expect her to come out at full speed,” makes it one of the most hilarious scenes I’ve seen all year.
Overall, You’re Next is a slow build. The first 30 minutes or so are tedious and annoying primarily because you’d just prefer all the characters were killed and they would just start over. In fact, I got to the point where I was trying to figure out who all these B-level actors reminded me of and still wonder what it would have been like had Milo Ventimiglia, Olivia Wilde, Rashida Jones and Emily Procter had actually been cast. However, as the characters begin to get picked off you begin to find enjoyment in their demise and Vinson is quite good as Erin to the point not only do you expect her to be the stereotypical “female survivor”, you want her to be.
The horror genre has so many misses it’s nice to see one that has fun with the overall silliness of it all, but it isn’t as if the idea of a self aware horror film is new. You’re Next is certainly a step above many of the video on demand horror releases we’ve seen as of late, but only to an extent that with the right audience you’ll have some fun in the theater, but in the end I don’t think you’ll feel as if you’ve seen something terribly outstanding.