August 26, 2013

Movie Review: You're Next

You're Next is one of those horror movies that has been left collecting dust on a shelf somewhere for years. So many films suffer this fate that sometimes I wonder what great gem may be hidden away, never to be seen by an audience hungry for what it's frames contain. After two years of sitting around, it has finally been given a clean bill of health and allowed to play in cineplexes around the country. It leaves behind such titles as The Poughkeepsie Tapes and All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (although it appears that Mandy may yet see the light of day).

The film has arrived with a pretty good amount of positive buzz, although anecdotal evidence I have collected is decidedly more mixed. Well, I saw it and I loved it. It takes home invasion flicks like The Strangers or Them and injects a mean and nasty streak and some pitch lack humor to the mix. It has a somewhat believable feel, but not entirely. This is not really about strict believability, it is about being nasty, mean, and bloody, but with a touch of heart. You will definitely have someone to cheer for as everything begins to go down.

The opening sequence is very reminiscent of 80's era slashers. It is dark, atmospheric, and downright mean. It helps set the tone for what is to come and gets a song stuck in your head that you will be hard pressed to get out, as it becomes a recurring motif through the runtime.

As the blood smeared window that serves as a rudimentary title card disappears, we are introduced to some new folks. A long separated family is coming together at their well-to-do parents getaway home, mansion is more like it. The three sons and one sister descend upon the home with their significant others in tow to celebrate their parents wedding anniversary.

The family is together just long enough for them to get the pleasantries out of the way before sitting down to dinner and letting the long simmering issues bubble up, beginning with a brotherly spat. As the quarrel descends into indecipherable babble, the killers introduced at the outset make their move. First from a distance, then up close and personal.

The family screams, dives for the floor, everything in a panic. Who is out there? What do they want? Will anyone make it out alive? The pace is quick and with bloody intent. The deeper in we get, the higher the body count gets. The killers, clad in black combat gear and Halloween animal masks, enter the house looking to finish the job. What they didn't count on was someone inside with the wherewithal to fight back and the talent to make it work. Think Macauley Culkin in Home Alone, improvising ways to fend off the intruders.

You're Next is an involving adventure. You sit there waiting for them to twist the knife, and while the twisting is near cheer inducing, the journey to the twist is bloody and interesting. You have a bickering family that should be annoying, but surprisingly isn't. The screenplay, believe it or not, is solid and plays you like a harp from hell. It is actually interesting to see the bits of development woven into the killing. Credit for this goes to screenwriter Simon Barrett.

The movie was directed by Adam Wingard and he does a fine job of keeping the interest high. Their is a very good sense of space, we can follow and understand where the characters are in relation to each other. We are kept on our toes as secrets are revealed and more death is doled out.

The performances are all solid, in particular, Sharni Vinson (that's right, the star of Step Up 3D). She is a revelation here, bringing strength and power to the screen. It is great watching her do her thing as the movie goes along. It is apparent that the killers were not prepared to face down someone with such skill and determination.I also liked seeing Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, From Beyond) as the family matriarch.

Something else that needs to be mentioned, the music. Music, when used right, can be a big part of the experience. In You're Next, it is used wonderfully. From songs to score, everything adds up to success. I particularly enjoyed the synth moments, taking me back to old school slashers, and also that tune that repeats on the CD player, great tune that just works oh so well.

Not sure what else I can say about the movie. I really liked it. The mean streak, the final girl, the blood, there is a lot to get excited about. This is a movie that kicks up the home invasion story, injecting a little life, a little ridiculousness, and a lot of fun.

Highly Recommended.

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