Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland
Markus Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Rated R for strong bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity
Now playing at Century 20 Oakridge Mall in San Jose, California:
You gotta appreciate killers who value spelling and punctuation. “You’re Next” is the new home invasion horror flick, which reunites independent genre filmmakers Adam Wingard (director) and Simon Barrett (writer). But therein lies the reason why this both succeeds and fails in the same 94 minute breath.
Side Note: Before I bring this movie down to earth, I will say that not since “Insidious” used Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Through The Tulips”, have I witnessed a better usage of a particular song in a horror movie. Furthermore, the sequences where it is used not only (coincidentally) display the best direction, but are the most memorable as well. The song in question is “Looking For the Magic” by the Dwight Twilley Band, and it’s the best part of this movie.
Synopsis: A bunch of people in a remote cabin (just trying to have a good time) are viciously terrorized by masked killers, for reasons unknown. But what these masked killers don’t realize, is that one of the victims “has a very particular set of skills.” Skills acquired over a very long time. Skills that are bound to make said victim a nightmare for (you guessed it) masked killers. If all of this sounds familiar, that isn’t a surprise. Wingard and Barrett are not trying to reinvent the wheel here. All they are trying to do is put their spin on the rated R slasher. And if it’s scary, then nothing else matters, right?
Why “You’re Next” only gets 3 stars: Often during some of the more gruesome sequences, Barrett curiously attempts to display his own dark sense of humor, by having someone in the group say something witty or engage in some obscenely awkward commentary. But by doing so, he absolutely mutilates the horror atmosphere during these moments and causes character reactions to MURDER, to come off as confusing at best. Not to mention, that nearly all of the “funny lines” fall flat because they are so quirkily misplaced.
That said, the direction is really what makes and breaks “You’re Next”. It is rare that you get examples of some excellent horror direction and some downright awful direction in the same film. But that’s what you get here. On one hand, any director that can make guys wearing stupid animal masks look intimidating is doing something right. On the other hand, there are scenes (mostly when nobody is getting killed or screaming their heads off) that are so tedious and eye rollingly laughable, they will take the viewer out of the horror experience all together. Not to mention, a kill that is literally unwatchable, not for its grotesqueness, but because the screen is just too damn bright to look at during said sequence. So, this aspect in particular was a little disappointing; especially since I did predict (not too long ago) that Wingard would be the next big thing in horror.
Final Thought: While “You’re Next” does deliver some suspense and scares (all of which are the “quiet, quiet, quiet…LOUD, LOUD, LOUD” types of scares) the main problem with this as a horror movie, is that it doesn’t hold any weight. That is to say, it’s not all that creepy, it’s not going to be something that is going to keep you up at night and it’s not even that realistic as far as home invasion movies go. That is not to say that overall “You’re Next” doesn’t succeed at being a watchable and somewhat refreshing gruesome horror (next to the putrid gore-fest/torture-porn of the past decade). It just wasn’t as refreshing as it needed to be, especially if you are like me and had been anticipating this Wingard/Barrett collaboration ever since the film short “Q Is for Quack”.
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