|Review by Clay N Ferno|
Horror fans get a chance to get out of the house this weekend to check out You’re Next, a 2011 film picked up for national distribution from director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett.
Be wary of those in the theatre with plastic animal masks on in the theatre, the could be in on the master plan.
Welcome to a mansion in the woods with your family for the weekend!
If that’s not scary enough, just wait until your older brother gets there and starts teasing you about your weight.
This is a good horror film.
Perhaps a great one, but not a great thriller.
The young men responsible for making the movie obviously revere The Shining and Evil Dead, Halloween and Friday the13th, among other classics and expand on what they like about those films in interesting new ways.
My criticisms about You’re Next lay mostly within my own expectations of the movie halfway through. I was expecting more of the slimy revenge gore of I Spit on Your Grave (2010) and I ended up getting a very different kind of revenge story by the end.
A gory title card and opening scene involving the neighbor, his student mistress and our faceless killer (or killers) is set to the kid putting an AM Gold song on repeat, ‘Lookin for the Magic’ by Dwight Twilley Band (1977). The song that sounds familiar but it is not is more Kenny Loggins than Steely Dan but evokes the kind of Cuervo Gold and Fine Columbian vibe of a 40 year old sleeping with his co-ed they are going for.
Both teacher and student are killed violently and positioned in the house, eerily listening to this song for eternity on the 5 disc changer.
The pacing (and my interest) starts to move at a slow to stop pace for the next few scenes as the characters for the main story are slowly introduced on long drives up to the country with lots of exposition and dialogue spelling everything out. The Davison family is headed to celebrate Mom & Dad’s anniversary after Dad’s retirement in a huge ‘fixer-upper’ mansion. Crispian (AJ Bowen) and girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson) are the first to arrive, followed by Drake (Joe Swanberg), Felix (Nicholas Tucci) and his smoking out of the side of her mouth girlfriend Zee (Wendy Glenn).
There’s more siblings too, with significant others in tow, but these guys are just so much fodder for the machete and crossbow bolts of the plastic mask killer or killers.
Before a fateful dinner, Drake dopes himself up with his wife’s Vicoden, and at this point I’m waiting for Nurse Ratched to come and dope up our aisle with some because we’re gonna need something for the next 70 minutes.
At dinner is when the Bros. Davison start squabbling and houseguest Tariq (Ti West) notices something outside. He makes his way to the window and luckily takes a crossbow bolt to the forehead, making him the first in-house casualty.
From here on out, the gore and the murders start happening full force and we see three killers revealed, Lamb Mask, Tiger Mask and Fox Mask.
It’s Ten Little Indians as family members are picked off one by one, and the smart and remaining ones put up a good fight.
There are The Shining tropes are all over this thing, from the axe to the bathroom door to the animal masks. No complaints here about that, as Ash from Evil Dead is also paid tribute in an “Im gonna build this thing and here are all the things I need to do it and how I’m going to build it” montage.
My associate and I were rolling our eyes and pointing out the ‘this is coming next’ moments right up until the third act, when reveals and clues from earlier in the movie really pay off.
There are quite a few droll moments from Zee, who’s affected bat-necklace and her own eye rolling were gave us a not-very-interesting and un-cute version of Aubrey Plaza.
The thriller part missed marks possibly aimed for, like terrorizing the family in 2007’s Funny Games.
As far as horror, special effects and jumping out of plate glass windows and pulling shards of glass out of your leg to get revenge on the killers is concerned, the movie is spot-on. They even throw a little Dead Alive in there for you. The soundtrack even seems to be as minimal as Carpenter’s Halloween chirps and ding ding dings.
There is plenty of blood and killing for those hungry for that sort of thing. Plot-wise, more could have been done with the story, or less depending on if you prefer a Freddy, Jason or Mike Myers to do your killing for you. Peeking behind three masks makes for a very different film than if you have a singular villain.
I cringed at certain moments and had to look away and by the end I was enthralled as the plot crashes to a stop. Save the first five minutes or so of the film, the train seems to take a bit longer than expected to leave the station.
I’m only thankful that the movie didn’t try to go for the full 146 minute The Shining run time.