Starring: Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen
In their huge house in the middle of nowhere, the Davison family gather for a reunion and then during dinner they are bombarded by crossbow bolts into the room by a group of people wearing animal masks. As the family are picked off one by one, they seem trapped and destined to all die. However due to her secret past, these killers and the rest of the family are surprised by one of the son’s girlfriend, Erin (Vinson) whose ability to both survive and kill changes the cause of events for everyone.
Already in that brief synopsis we have plenty of genre clichés and it seems obvious from the start that You’re Next is hardly revolutionary. Writer and director Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard never seem to be making a particularly game changing film, but I would also argue that You’re Next is not as clever as the makers think it is. However, it is good enjoyable and entertaining gory fun from start to finish.
Once we get the usual meet and greet out of the way, there is a genuine feel of a good old school style slasher here. This is also a film very much aware of itself (sometimes perhaps too much) and certainly made with a sense of humour. Having Ti West turn up as filmmaker and then get jokes aimed at him for being that is good fun to watch. Once the killing starts everything is all good fun and suitably atmospheric, though the balance of humour and comedy sometimes is misjudged and so perhaps a rewrite or to may have helped. The bouts of gore however are well made and often imaginative considering the budget. When we get slow motion shots I found the alarm bells were already ringing as there laid the foundations of slight smugness that unfortunately did sometimes threaten to completely undermine the good work of the film, but thankfully it did not completely.
It seems these days all films, even blatant genre pieces such as You’re Next, have to have plot twists and revelations and my main criticism of this film is that I felt it dealt its hand in terms of these inevitable twists too early. Some of these are glaringly obvious but I felt that even the slightly less obvious ones did undermine some of the tension and at times made the final third feel like a bit of anti climax. Of course the character of Erin provides most of the attention and she does solely keep things interesting in the final third as essentially the protagonist (A good performance from Vinson also helps). However there is still that dominating feeling of progressive anti climax throughout which is not helped that it does feel at times the makers are struggling to think of things to fill the 90 minutes.
Suitably gory and equally enjoyable, You’re Next perhaps struggles to be anything but that due to the slight smugness of its makers and a final third that somewhat peters out; however it is a very fun and a very bloody 90 minutes.