Saturday, August 24, 2013

You're Next (2013)

**This review contains SOME spoilers, nothing major**

To celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary, Paul Davison (Rob Moran) and Aubrey Davison (Barbara Crampton) invite their children to their vacation home deep in the woods. With some lasting  friction between them, Paul and Aubrey’s sons Crispian (A.J. Bowen) and Drake (Joe Swanberg) snipe at each other, while Drake’s wife, Kelly (Margaret Laney) tries to be a peacemaker, and Crispian’s girlfriend, Erin (Sharni Vinson) is stuck in the middle. Meanwhile, Paul and Aubrey’s other son, Felix (Nicholas Tucci) remains anti-social and grumpy with his quiet, but creepy girlfriend, Zee (Wendy Glenn). As the most normal child in the family, Paul and Aubrey’s cheery daughter, Aimee (Amy Seimetz) is happy with her boyfriend, Tariq (Ti West).

When the night of the big dinner arrives, Crispian and Drake go at each other’s throats during the feast, after Drake makes a slight remark about his relationship with Erin. But the argument is cut short, when an arrow bursts through a window and Tariq’s forehead, killing him. A mysterious group of men wearing animal masks and dressed in all black are armed with crossbows, axes, and machetes as they stalk, hunt, and plan to kill anyone inside the house. With no clear exits, and cell phones with no signals, everyone is forced to work together for survival. But who are these men, and why are they determined to slaughter innocent people?

Kind of sucks how Ti West had to die so early. I didn’t even realize this until I actually saw the movie a few hours ago, but Ti West is the guy, who’s killed after looking out the window in the trailers. Remember how something (an arrow) breaks through the window, a guy falls to the ground dead, and everyone starts screaming and freaking out? Yeah, that’s Ti West, and his appearance here is limited to cameo status, because he’s killed off a few minutes after the introduction of his character. And ironically enough, West’s character is a filmmaker.

The honor for best performance in You’re Next goes to Sharni Vinson, easily. She’s fierce, fearless, tough, and you can’t question her believability as a bad ass. It’s a refreshing change for horror films, because the fighting woman is usually panicky and frightened, screams to the top of her lungs every five minutes, and her acts of bravery are limited to blind strokes of luck after she kills or maims an antagonist (or antagonists). And on top of that, Vinson was able to show some vulnerability and shed some tears after Erin discovers the truth behind the attacks at the very end.

Runner up would go to Joe Swanberg. He provides most of the laughs, as the obnoxious and pushy dick. And Wendy Glenn is really, really creepy and dark as Zee, especially towards the end. And A.J. Bowen is appropriately pretentious and snobbish as Crispian, who is a real douchebag throughout this film. Rest of the cast never rises above okay or decent enough quality wise. That, or their characters are killed off too soon to make a significant impact on the story.

Looking for likeable characters, who you can root for and form a bond with? Well, you won’t find too many in You’re Next. In fact, Vinson portrays the only likeable character, as Erin emerges from the pack as the gutsy leader, who won’t quit no matter what.

In a lot of the promo ads and trailers for this film, you’ll see You’re Next pushed as a fresh and different home invasion horror film. Well, that’s bullshit for the most part. Erin being a fighting heroine is a nice change, but You’re Next is still loaded with predictable horror clichés, and stupid, STUPID characters. The clichés? “Hey! Let’s split up from the group, and isolate ourselves in separate rooms, while a bunch of killers are hunting us!” Opening doors you shouldn’t open, people randomly running out of the house with NO protection or weapons, and taking time to look under the bed, when you damn well know there’s someone hiding under there. And of course, the protagonists realize staying inside the house is probably safer than “making a run for it” after the people, who tried to run return as dismembered corpses. Ugh. And you can tell, who the sole survivor will be at the very end, as the story develops. You’re Next tries to throw you off the trail every now and then, but it’s too obvious.

But with all that said, You’re Next deserves a lot of credit for two genuinely shocking twists for, “who’s pulling the strings?” The first twist becomes more obvious in the events leading up to it, but the second one during the big finale really caught me off guard. I won’t give away too much, but money and greed are the key motivations for the attacks.

It’s not perfect, but still, I really enjoyed You’re Next. It’s a bloody and gory home invasion horror flick, that’s loaded with a lot of gruesome and nasty deaths, and a few decent jump scares (mainly at the beginning). I don’t want to give it away, but the blender death (you’ll know it, when you see it) is the most repulsive death scene in this film, and the home made weapons and traps are just brutal (boards with nails in them, Erin’s axe contraption, etc.). You’re Next should please the most bloodthirsty gore fiends, and the jaw-dropping kills are more than capable of making you cringe. Plus, the cliffhanger to close out the movie is just perfect.

Rating: 7/10

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