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You're Next (2011)
17th Feb 14
Brother brings his younger girlfriend to a family reunion where his sister is dating Ti West. Killers with animal masks on try to kill them all. It doesn't play out like you'd expect.
This movie is all about those heart warming family get-togethers that happen when the kids grow up, the parents retire to the country, and occasionally everyone likes to meet up, see how things are and generally just catch up. Crispian ( AJ Bowen from House of the Devil) is a college lecturer who’s driving out to such an event with his much younger and impossibly thin former student girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson who played the impossibly thin girlfriend in Ozzie shark in a supermarket classic Bait) explaining to her the family dynamic. Dad has reached retirement age and his parents have bought this house out here with only one neighbour who’s left his wife for a hot young chick (more on that later), and has invited them to celebrate. The house that is, not the neighbour’s hot chick girlfriend. Crispian’s brothers and sisters are here too, and from the get go you notice the tension. Older brother Drake is clearly more financially successful and calls Crispian fat almost immediately. Younger brother Felix is the black sheep of the family (you can tell by his expression in a strategically placed photo early on) and he’s bought his oddball Emo girlfriend ‘Zee’ along, whose name mother (played by Barbara Crampton, remember her in Re-Animator?) simply refers to as unusual. Younger and slightly arty sister Aimee is also there, turning up late with her filmmaker boyfriendTariq in tow (a neat little cameo by director Ti West).
They settle down to dinner and things don’t get much better. Drake quizzes Tariq about the films he makes. Underground films? You mean they show they underground? Drake then goes on to mouth off how commercials are the way to go, that they’re better than the TV shows they appear in, and how he should go down that route. Much eye rolling ensues, Crispian starts to vent out his frustrations, Erin looks uncomfortable, and then Tariq notices something at the window. He goes to investigate and, in a pivotal moment, is shot in the eye with a crossbow bolt.
He drops dead, much screaming happen, and everyone starts to panic. What’s going on, how will they survive, how will they even get out of this room? While the chaos ensues, it’s Erin that steps up, quickly telling people to grab chairs for cover while they make out of window sight. They’re soon all bundled in the next room, all fearing for their lives, knowing a killer is on the loose outside. What should they do? What’s the next move? Has the movie caught your attention yet?
From here on in, the movie is not predictably a cat and mouse game of survival, with silent masked killers attempting to bump the family off one by one. However, not all is as it seems in the supposedly wholesome looking All American poster campaign family, but equally, and quite surprisingly, not all is as it seems with our plucky Ozzie heroin Erin, who also has an interesting past, and the way that plays out lifts You’re Next above many of its contemporaries.
You do get the feeling watching You’re Next, that someone has been reading the “101 how to make a cool Slasher movie” handbook. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The movie opens with the neighbour down the road shagging his much younger girlfriend, giving us some early nudity, who then become the first people to work out why the movie is called You’re Next. For Crispian to drive past that house minutes later to start the story proper is a neat bit of plot connectivity, while giving the viewer a hint of what’s to come. The fact that the intermediary family bickering is entertaining to watch is a pure bonus. In fact, You’re Next never churns out bad dialogue, the interplay between characters is always smooth, and when the gory action bits do come along they complement the script well, and never seems needlessly sensational.
Alright, that’s maybe going too far, you could argue that all Slashers are needlessly sensational as that is the core trait of the genre. You’d be right too, and You’re Next is no exception. A few key scenes stay in the mind, mainly because of their comedy, shock or gory nature. But the look and feel of the whole film is good, well shot, well lit, well paced and best of all well edited, and the credible 95 minute run-time nips along at a steady pace. All performances in the movie work well too, with perhaps the exception of the Dad character that spends most of the movie looking clueless like a sitcom dad from the 80s. You can’t have everything.
Okay, it does get a bit far fetched at times and, okay, by the time the ending comes around you have kinda seen it coming (once the movie starts to twist, the twists are predictable twists in a predictably twisty way), but it still doesn’t detract from the entertainment value. And that’s despite what she does with that axe.
Clever, entertaining, but mildly formulaic in its own twisty world, You’re Next is definitely one to recommend. It would also make a good date movie horror, if your partner is not too squeamish. And I doubt this is the last we’ll see of Sharni Vinson, and that’s not a bad thing either.