“It’s No Scream!” A DVD Review : You’re Next (2013)
**WARNING: CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS**
You’re Next (2011) is one of the most disappointing, hyped-up films to emerge in recent years. For those of you who follow my Facebook page you will already be aware how much this film particularly aggravated me. Prior to viewing I had heard a mixed-bag of reactions from various sources however as I do with most films went in indifferent. You’re Next has gained a great deal of attention since its premiere at Fright Fest back in August 2013 however I was only able to finally sit down and watch it today following its UK DVD and Blu-Ray release. I suppose all in all it’s a marmite film, some of you will get a kick out of it while others (like myself) will be reeling for something more.
Before we begin, I must establish that I’m a huge fan of slasher films, particularly from the 70’s, 80’s and late 90’s. Slashers were the sub-genre that primarily made me the horror geek I am today. It all started with a slick, game-changer of a film, directed by one of the masters of Horror Wes Craven, Scream (1996). I originally caught the film in a late night slot on channel 4 during my pre-teens. What began as a personal endurance test turned into a life-long obsession with cinema’s darkest genre. Scream was self-referential, critiquing the horror movies that came before it. Soon, I had familiarized myself with Michael Myers, Freddy Kruger and Jason Voorhees and the rest is history. Scream did something that the horror films since have struggled to achieve so when Adam Wingard’s You’re Next splattered itself onto festival screens with strong comparisons made it seemed more than promising. Could it be the sophisticated, modern slasher film we’ve all been craving since Craven?!
Interestingly, You’re Next technically came out in 2011. It circulated a few small festivals but did not obtain a wider and more commercial release until 2013. To be fair, home invasion movies are pretty trendy at this moment in Horror, and it came out just in time to rival The Purge within the space of a couple of months.
You’re Next is the story of the Davidson family who come under attack during a family dinner by a mysterious gang disguised with animal masks. Prior to the family’s introduction, there’s a weak opening sequence which sees two severely underdeveloped characters murdered just to lead the way for the words “You’re Next” to be painted in blood on the wall. Need I remind everyone how this doesn’t compare to Scream in the slightest! In one of cinema’s most iconic and terrifying opening scenes, a character played by Drew Barrymoore is brutally murdered following a very clever and intense build-up. When your movie opens with a famous actress being killed off that sets the standard that anything is possible and was shocking for its time. You’re Next’s opening didn’t even compare. If this really wanted to be marketed as a “game-changer” then at least do something to surprise the audience instead of the derivative, seen-it-all before, meaningless cliche.
This is then followed by some filler scenes which are a poor attempt at establishing the Davidson’s. The Mum and Dad characters, Aubrey (Barbara Crampton) and Paul (Rob Moran) look far too young to be the parents of their four thirty-something children but I imagine we are supposed to suspend our disbelief in this case. Their obnoxious offspring are accompanied by their dull partners and the scene is set for carnage to take place. The main focus is on Erin (Sharni Vinson), son Crispian’s (AJ Bowen) girlfriend, predictably set up as the intended final girl. It’s an attempt at placing a strong, empowered, resourceful yet flawless woman in the lead in order to tick their post-modern feminism box but that’s the problem, she is too good to be true, more caricature less character. That said, Sharni Vinson is easily the strongest actress in this blood-soaked mess and does well with the material she’s given, despite her characters backstory being incredibly far fetched. Prior to the brutal attack on the family during what could be described as a tense meal time, there’s tedious talk about Ti West’s character Tariq being a documentary filmmaker who gets his films screened at “intelligent” underground festivals which comes across as either pretentious or being self-aware about pretentious mentalities in filmmaking. The brothers then begin arguing amongst themselves in a shouty, uninteresting manner before a crossbow smashes through the window taking the family down one by one.
That is pretty much the film. There’s too much shouting that quickly becomes irritating, there’s shaky cam particularly at the dinner scene which feels unnecessary and possibly done pretentiously. Erin’s “strong woman” act is over exaggerated, there’s only so many times you can watch someone being bludgeoned before it becomes boring. I found myself yelling at the screen, “That’s enough now!” and “Oh was that meant to be funny” at its poor attempts at humor. The acting was terrible as a whole, no empathy was created with anyone and as for the twist, I doubt it will leave you thought-provoked or astonished!
Not for a long time has a film completely irritated me to this extent. It’s Scream comparisons as you may have gathered has a lot to do with it. Hype like this for a mediocre slasher doesn’t bode well for the future of these kinds of films. Unfortunately You’re Next has no redeeming qualities, it comes across as lazy, predictable, badly constructed, poorly written and just one huge disappointment. It could have possibly been forgiven if it had not marketed itself in that way and been hyped up so much. The masks may be gimmicky and hold some appeal but as a film it doesn’t hold up as one of the slasher greats.
Hayley Alice Roberts.