You’re Next

Movie Review #892

ONCE YOU GET PAST THE DUMB WRITING AND UNEVEN ACTING, “YOU’RE NEXT” IS AN EFFECTIVE MIX OF BLOOD, SCARES, AND BLACK HUMOR.

★★½
By Red Stewart

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Released August 23, 2013 (nationwide)
Horror, Thriller
Rated R (contains graphic violence, profanity, sexual content, nudity)
95 minutes

In recent decades, horror fans have been treated to an influx of so-called “splatter” films that replace genuine scares with scenes of extensive gore. It’s this flooding of the market with such amateur works that’s made me fear that horror afficiandos will grasp at any new movie that attempts to return to form, no matter how much it fails in doing so.

Such is the case with “You’re Next”, a home invasion thriller that provides some powerful scares but is ultimately brought down by the problems plaguing many low-budget films today; bad writing. The premise is something we’ve seen one too many times already; a rich family get-together turns into a nightmare as everyone is hunted by a pack of killers, no doubt hired by someone to secure their inheritance (a motivation so old, even the Greeks dropped it soon in their folktales).

But of course, no one watching “You’re Next” is here for the story. They want to be frightened by the terror that grips the household as the body count rises and paranoia grips the masses. However, I have to ask these people, is there really a point in getting tensed up if the next scene has as good a chance of ruining the immersion as accentuating it?

This is my problem with movies like this. It’s evident that the filmmakers are going for style-over-substance, so why bother interrupting the flow of events with such dumb moments like a woman telling her fiancee she wants to f— him near a dead body? Now to be fair, scenes like this do lend “You’re Next” a black comedic feel, but in retrospect I’m half-convinced most of them were unintentional.

And speaking of that, I understand that even good actors can appear bad with poorly-wrtten dialogue (looking at you, “Star Wars” prequel trilogy), but the performances were very inconsistent throughout the movie. I don’t mean to generalize the entire cast as some of the actors like Joe Swanberg, Rob Moran, and Barbara Crampton are quite talented. However, more often than not, you have actors who are good at displaying one type of emotion and awful at portraying another. I won’t go into details because you’ll clearly see it for yourself, but this contributes to the aforementioned loss of engrossment.

If there’s one aspect of “You’re Next” that I will praise without criticism it is that none of the violence comes off as gratuitous. Even when a character does the cliché of repeatedly beating a bad guy till blood is spraying everywhere with each hit, the brutality never felt excessive by any means, and that is something that even established directors have a hard time accomplishing (looking at you, Tarantino).

To summarize, I did like “You’re Next” to a large extent, but the flashy action just wasn’t enough to compensate for the lousy dialogue and uneven acting.

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5 thoughts on “You’re Next

    • Like I said in my opening paragraph, horror fans have (rightfully) become so desperate for a return-to-form horror film that they overhype anything that at least tries to go back.

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