It is summer time and that means spending hours locked up in a dark room, watching people do terrible and deranged things to each other. The true meaning of the season if there ever was one. In a time where twists are the norm and psycho killers have long, extended tragic backstories, it’s nice just to see bloodshed without any of the exposition.
Let’s take a look at You’re Next.
The plot is fairly simple: a well-to-do family invites their four children and their significant others for an anniversary dinner. However, as soon as the dinner begins, mysterious killers start shooting arrows into the house, killing one of the boyfriends and terrifying the family. One by one, people are killed by men in animal masks as Erin, one of the girlfriends brought to the dinner, begins to fight back against the intruders. However, this isn’t a random attack and soon Erin is trying to keep as many people alive as she can … for now.
The issue with this plot is that the first half is actually kind of a bore. It’s slow, it’s got a lot of exposition it doesn’t dole out well, and fails to deliver on what we actually want: meaningful blood and gore. However, it does pick up after that once Erin start really showing her survivalist Outback roots to set up traps. This is, in fact, the most satisfying portion of the movie and where the narrative finally gets rolling. Why? Because now there’s a real struggle to survive rather than being slaughtered all wide-eyed.
Erin is a stone cold balls-to-the-wall badass who is truly a pleasure to watch in action. Maybe it’s seeing a rather small, feminine person taking charge and utterly destroying her enemies with the unbridled ferocity of a supernova, or maybe we recognize that she lives outside this elitist, classist system and thus want her to tear it apart. Or maybe, just maybe, we like to watch Australians kick ass. Either way, Sharni Vinson manages to bring a real sense of energy and suppressed rage to the part, saying as much with her physicality as with her spoken performance. If she doesn’t become a star scream queen, I will be thoroughly disappointed.
The rest of the cast ranges from good to terrible. The parents, played by Rob Moran and Barbara Crampton, are rather endearing and their loss (because its their anniversary, of course they die) is truly felt. Crispan’s A.J. Bowen is the most competently performed of the four siblings. Wendy Glenn’s gothic girlfriend Zee feels stilted and wooden, while neurotic wife Kelly, played by Margaret Laney, is too over-the-top. The killers themselves are all fine but, for the most part, they don’t say or do much, but they also don’t say or do all that much.
The cinematography feels a little dated, with muted yellowed colors and overly dark scenery that made it hard to see the action. However, as it works in the tone of the film, the aesthetic makes a lot of sense. It helps with the feeling that the house itself is turning against the family. The direction is strong and the editing works well for the genre, and might very well be the best aspect of the film.
You’re Next is a thriller designed for slasher fiends and survivalists but you’ll still have to slog through the first part to get anything out of it. Perhaps if a better writer were able to tighten up the script and actually given the characters dialogue that didn’t turn them into half-assed tropes designed to be unsatisfyingly murdered, it would have held up better. As it is, consider it merely as a fun free-for-all film that’s light on the gore but not the blood.
– Second half is great.
– Some good performances.
– Strong action.
– First half is a bore.
– Some performances is so-so.
– Lighting is a bit dark.