Wednesday, September 17, 2014

You're Next Review

When I first heard about You're Next, I felt pretty excited. It got very strong reviews - which I only skimmed, so as to not spoil anything - the kind of critical praise that made me want to catch it in the theater. Unfortunately, I had a very busy schedule at the time, and wasn't able to see it. I crossed my fingers, hoping that it would become available on Netflix's streaming service.

Well, a few weekends ago, I got my wish - and it was so much more than I could have hoped for. Not only was this a well-made film, it was so grisly and scary that I locked by bedroom door and left a baseball bat beside my bed. No joke, this is a home invasion-type horror film that is genuinely terrifying. If you're sensitive to stories about people getting attacked in their own houses - do not watch this movie.

We open with a scene straight out of an 80's picture. Two people enjoy each other's company, have a little sex... and then their lives start getting pretty damn weird. The cold open neatly dovetails into a slightly different scenario with no clear connection to the movie's beginning: a couple in their early 50's taking a drive to their home in the countryside. From there, it's pretty easy to start to figure out that we're looking at a long-overdue family gathering.

But they're all coming together in a remote house that doesn't see lots of use. Sheets cover the furniture, and the front door was found unlocked. The location is effectively used to create lots of tension - random noises from the upstairs, no neighbors in sight, spotty cell phone reception...

And once the family at this picture's core is together, you can see all the little tensions that exist amongst them. Sure, the younger generation's three guests have never met their friends' family, but they can see that this group has a lot of problems with each other. There has to be some reason why this clan never meets up, right?

Whenever buzz about a new horror film comes out, I hold my breath and hope - and, at the same time, figure the latest feature will probably fail me. Horror genre misfires are very commonplace these days: the characters are not engaging (often the villain/threat), the scripts suck, the plotting is lazy and/or stupid (RE: Apocalypse), or they veer into torture porn-territory (I avoid it so well, only my The Collection review comes close). And that's excluding all the found footage stuff, which virtually never do anything for me.

I thought You're Next was very different, even refreshing. This is a brutal, gripping slasher/thriller where I felt nervous, and sometimes horrified - but, fortunately it doesn't show nasty stuff just to shock a viewer with "nasty stuff." It always opts for suspense and a creepy vibe over gore, but I wouldn't blame anyone for wincing, often. The roles are nicely drawn-out, the dialogue feels realistic, and the scares aren't ever cheap - I think they're effective, and used well.

The movie wouldn't have been very scary if the characters didn't feel real. You get the sense of long-standing gripes and grievances, of the wildly-different personalities that develop in any such unit, and their interactions bear it all out. The quality of the actors - and the script - means that you, as an audience member, have no reason to pull away from this experience. The result, then, is all the scarier for seeming so believable...

It's not for everyone, though. My roommate has a healthy love of horror, a fondness for psychological terror, no problem with gore, and an academic knowledge of film: she thought it sucked. She said she wasn't scared by it, and she was laughing at the events that appeared on the screen. What can I say, even among people who are receptive to a genre, tastes vary.

There isn't much I can reveal about YN without spoiling it to pieces (hence the lack of videos). Just trust me when I state that I think it's a very well-written, gut-wrenching experience - without sinking into the depths of Hostel or Haut Tension - and that it doesn't cheat the audience out of a good story. As with any party, you can never be sure of who's waiting to show up, or even of who's sitting next to you. The real question is whether you can stomach seeing a nice party devolve into a horrific evening.


  1. I saw YN a few months ago(on DVD) and was delighted by the shocks and surprises along the way. The whole movie had that sharp realistic tone you saw in films during the early 70s, plus it was wicked smart.

    There are some dark humor bits, so I can see having a chuckle or two there. What's weird to me about this movie is that there is a group of pro wrestlers called The Wyatt Family(typical spooky hillbilly stereotypes) and one of the guys in that bunch wears a animal mask similar to what the home invaders have on. Don't know if YN had anything to do with that choice or not but they always remind of the movie when and if I see them:)

    1. Haha, yeah, I didn't really go into the humor, but this was such a good overall *film* that it's tough to highlight everything that I felt it did right.

      I've never heard of the Wyatts, but I hope they had one kickass match against another team called "The McCoys."


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