January 20, 2014 2 Comments
I’m not sure when I really started liking horror movies. I never used to like the genre – mostly because it always seemed to be the same re-hashed scenario (seemingly invulnerable killer with a knife) in different settings. But I’ve realized that’s a pretty unfair generalization. There’s a wealth of horrifying subject matter to draw from – alien abductions, supernatural occurrences, cults, mental instability, etc. – and when a horror movie is done well it’s one of the most satisfying cinematic experiences you can have. You’re Next may not break much new ground in the well-tread genre, but it throws a twist into a cliched scenario and it’s a lot of fun to watch the mayhem unfold.
The members of the Davison family have gathered for a reunion at their remote country house. It’s deep in the wilderness, and they only have one neighbour in the area. He’s far enough away that he won’t be able to hear screams or gunshots, but close enough for some intrepid family members to contact him for help, if they can run fast enough. I wonder if “isolated country house with a high chance of successful home invasions” is a major selling point for such estates.
The Davison family is a largely dysfunctional clan. There’s the eldest son (Joe Swanberg) who scoffs and sneers at his younger siblings and regards them as inferiors. He’s particularly ruthless towards his brother Crispian (AJ Bowen), a university professor striving for a fellowship that seems to be uninterested in his work, and who brings along a girlfriend (formerly his student) with him. The rest of the family is a hodge-podge of characters we’ve seen before: the wealthy patriarch (Rob Moran) and his anxious wife (Barbara Crampton), the ne’er-do-well youngest son (Nicholas Tucci) and his sullen girlfriend (Wendy Glenn), and the only daughter (Amy Seimetz) and her filmmaker partner (horror director Ti West). Unwritten horror film rule: large families make for great fodder.
Before the dysfunctional family dynamics can really start brewing (see August: Osage County if you’re looking for that instead), masked invaders begin shooting arrows and killing people. And the fun is just getting started.
The acting in You’re Next (especially in the early scenes) is pretty sub-standard. There’s especially some issues with Crispian, who seems to be a bit monotone and emotionless when interacting with his girlfriend, and their scenes together come off a little bit stilted. The film gets a lot better once it dials down the dialogue and increases the violence, though. The characters are a lot more believable once they’re covered in a lot of red food dye and corn syrup.
A bit of a caveat – this isn’t necessarily a “scary” film. There are some tense moments, but the main object of the film is to have some fun with a well-worn scenario and make something a little off-beat. It may come at the expense of scares, but the trade-off is worth it. Especially when a household appliance makes an unexpected cameo to deliver one of the film’s most deliciously grotesque moments, and the final scene of the movie ends in a macabre punchline.
You’re Next a great example of some of the exciting work being done in the horror genre, and even though it has flaws, it’s an enjoyable ride.