This horror flick opens as an older couple celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary head out to the family summer home, where they meet up with their adult children (and assorted spouses) for a weekend’s celebration together.
It’s family time as usual, except for one recent addition to the clan: their son Crispian’s new girlfriend Erin, who has a thick Australian accent . . . AND A DARK, DARK SECRET. (Cue “dun-dun-DUN!” music.) (Only not really, because her secret is really more ridiculous than DARK, DARK.)
At first, everything goes pretty much as expected — family banter, family strain, all on display at the dinner table. Then, out of the blue, an arrow comes flying through a window, and the family finds themselves under vicious attack from strangers in masks hiding right outside.
As they make a series of really idiotic decisions resulting in a series of really gore-iotic deaths, the movie spins around and around in all-too-familiar circles, offering very little in the way of creative ideas, until we get to the end — which is about as all-too-familiar as they come.
In other words: Yawn.
I hadn’t been all that interested in seeing this movie when it first came out — despite its general panning from movie critics, the Liv Tyler/Scott Speedman movie The Strangers had been very successful in creeping me the heck out, and after seeing that one (plus, Ils (Them), a similar, but even scarier French film I reviewed in the same post with The Strangers), I kind of swore off the home-invasion-horror genre for a while. I love scary movies, but I like my scares a little less “could actually happen to me,” know what I mean?
I kept hearing that You’re Next was clever, well-written, and even a bit darkly comic, though, so I gave it a shot. Here’s my rundown on those three descriptors:
Clever: Where? There’s nothing here I haven’t seen done before in a myriad of different ways, and the “twist” in the middle, revealing the reason for the attack, was as original as the cliche I’m about to use to describe it: visible from a mile away. Plus, giving the killers an actual reason for doing what they’re doing, even if it’s an interesting reason (which it isn’t here, I’m just pretending) immediately takes away some of the fear factor — when the killers in The Strangers answered the question, “Why are you doing this to us?” with “Because you were home,” for example, my stomach flipped. Man. That is WAY scarier than [reason provided by the killers in You're Next] (spoiler avoidance!).
Well-written: The dialogue was fine, but in order to be an effectively scary movie, I have to be scared for the characters I’m watching, and in order for me to do that, I have to at least care about them a little. Hard to do when they’re all really, really boring. Erin was the one tiny standout, and that was only because she was a curious mix of homicidal maniac and moralist (about as curious a mix as curious mixes come, frankly).
Darkly comic: Oh, maybe. I never know what people mean by “darkly comic” half the time anyway. I didn’t feel this was a “comic” movie, dark or otherwise, but that may be because I was so bored so quickly I didn’t have the energy to be bleakly amused.
I used to watch just about every horror movie I could get my hands on, but I confess that over the last couple of years, I’ve started to lose a lot of my patience. I think I’ve just seen too many now — nothing strikes me as unique anymore. Here’s hoping a filmmaker comes along soon who can truly revitalize the genre, because we’re long overdue for something interesting.
Anyway, I suggest giving this one a pass. But if you’re looking for a good scary home invasion movie, go check out my double-feature review of The Strangers and Ils, because one or both of those ought to be sufficient for a couple of weeks of double-checking the locks on your doors at night. And have any of you guys seen The Purge? I keep checking it out from the library and sending it back unwatched. Should I watch? Don’t steer me wrong!
Cast: Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen, Nicholas Tucci