“You’re Next,” released on Aug. 23, is a horror-thriller directed by Adam Wingard (segments of V/H/S, V/H/S/2) that was shown in 2011 at the Toronto Film Festival. At the time, it was lauded as being one of the more impressive horror films in recent memory. Words like “fresh,” “clever” and “well-paced” have been applied to “You’re Next,” and it currently sits at a 79 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Don’t believe the hype. Don’t be conned out of your hard-earned money. And certainly don’t go into this film thinking it’s any good. It isn’t. It’s as lazy and derivative as the horror genre gets and can’t seem to settle on a tone.
“You’re Next” starts with a couple being viciously murdered by men who cover their faces in dollar store animal masks. Then, it screeches to a halt as a teacher’s assistant and her professor, who are lovers, drive to this secluded house in the woods that their family owns. The goal of the parents is to bring their estranged and argumentative children to the house and repair relationships.
Each child is coupled with a boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, husband, etc., and there is simply not enough time to go over the characters at play. They come off archetypes of the horror genre with none of the acting chops to make the audience even mildly invested in the unfolding plot.
When it hits the proverbial fan, and it does after a lengthy and awkward dinner sequence, people start getting “off-ed” one after the other, but it feels like “meat for the grinder” as the character development has largely been abandoned. As the story progresses, you start hearing comedic lines that seem more at home in parodies of horror films. Lines such as “I would run, but I’ve got this arrow in my back” subvert the tone that the film was trying to achieve.
More often than not, shots are held on one specific character, and the audience isn’t sure whether this is meant to be funny, disturbing or light-hearted. “You’re Next” reeks of a film that wasn’t willing to go the distance. Rather than be a tongue-in-cheek film like “Evil Dead” (1981) or as sick and depraved as “Silence of the Lambs” (1991), it wobbles inconsistently throughout the entire film.
Toward the end of the film, as you struggle to care, the film does a complete 180 degree turn and morphs into an homage of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984) and “Home Alone” (1990). The music is like some cacophony of techno-beats and synthesizer tracks that leaves as soon as it arrives. It feels woefully inappropriate as some disturbing things are said a couple scenes apart from one another. It all goes to illustrate just how schizophrenic the overall package of “You’re Next” is.
“You’re Next” is the textbook definition of a generic horror film. Subplots are raised with little-to-no payoff for the conclusion. Characters are introduced to be cannon fodder, and none of the actors can act without cracking a smile or awkwardly staring at other characters. Had it not been for the hilarious dialogue peppered throughout the film, I would have given it a much lower score.
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