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Movie Review: 'You're Next'

You're Next

Starring Sharni Vinson, AJ Bowen, Rob Moran
Directed by Adam Wingard
Rated R

Last month I walked out of a horror movie with results that I never saw coming.  That movie was The Conjuring and what I never saw coming was how much I liked the movie, gushing might be a better way to describe it.  What that movie lacked in originality made up for by very being very subtle and effective in making their movie unique.  Right around that time, I saw a trailer for You’re Next, a home invasion type horror movie that seemed to destined to repeat the very thing The Conjuring was successful at.  Leading up to the release of the film, the buzz for how good the movie was grew by the day and while I will always remain super skeptical about horror films, I still found myself excited to see this movie.  Sure it looked like The Strangers, but The Conjuring looked like a whole slew of past films and looked what happened there?  

You’re Next deserves some recognition for trying to bust out of the tired horror genre box.  But the movie drops the ball with so many opportunities that it almost makes you angry because the opportunities seem so obvious to achieve.   In fact, I don’t know if the filmmakers ended up making what you would call a “horror movie”, its ambitions with the story seem too big. They’re ambitions that don’t seem to want to lay with The Strangers or even The Conjuring but rather make its bed with Cabin in the Woods.  I just wish the filmmakers would’ve reached their desired goal.

The movie centers on a weekend getaway for a family celebrating the anniversary of Paul & Aubrey Davison (Rob Moran & Barbara Crampton).  The getaway is taking place at their remote vacation home and while the entire family are gathered (3 brothers who arrive with their wives/girlfriends and one sister with her filmmaker boyfriend), they’re far from happy about being there.  Jealously & favoritism seem to be what this family is all about.   One night at dinner, while an argument ensues, the filmmaker boyfriend notices something through the window, something lurking out in the wooded surroundings.  Then an arrow pierces his skull sending the family into panic mode as this seemingly random attack is starting to target everyone else.  As the family fights for their survival and coming to the realization that this attack may not be random, Erin (Sharni Vinson) the girlfriend and former student to the middle brother Crispian (AJ Bowen), begins to show off a little something she learned as a kid growing up…how to fight back.

There are a couple of reveals in the movie that flesh out why all of this is happening to the Davison family.  The big problem is the reveals aren’t that revealing.  The first one (and the supposedly more shocking one) you can figure out pretty quickly.  The second one doesn’t really explain itself (or at least explain itself in further detail). When trying to throw any sort of twist at the audience; it has to come as a genuine logical shock. So when you as an audience member can guess what going to happen way before it actually happens, it just takes you out of the movie pretty quickly.  The movie's villians, at least the ones wearing the masks, aren't that effective either. Sure they can sneak into a room or kill you with an arrow, but once they're confronted with a fight from Erin, she dispenses of them pretty quickly.  I can't think of one moment where I felt Erin was in any danger.  That's sort of a key ingredient when putting your protagonist into a perilous situation.  

You're Next can't quite figure out what the tone of the movie should be.  First, there is the Davison family.  The're not likable people, but that's also the point as Erin is the one you want to be rooting for.  But in creating that, the Davison family come off as being more satrical archetype of your typical horror film family.  You kinda root them to die, but I'm not fully convinced the filmmakers wanted it to be that way. The movie darts back and forth from trying to be a true horror movie to being one that is very aware of the silliness that can come with a horror film and playing off of that vibe.  They should of went with the latter in my opinion as it would've made for a more enjoyable experience (thus killing any momentum with how you present the Davison family). And Erin, the character just isn't developed enough for you to really care what happens to her (this is also hampered by my statement eariler about not putting her into perilous situations).

But as I stated before, I give the movie credit for trying to be different.  And even though the movie doesn't reach it's full potential, I was never left with the feeling that this movie was a total mistake. Rather, I was left with the feeling that had they made a couple of changes, tonally and to the structure of the story, I would be singing a diffent tune altogether about my experience with You're Next.  Hopefully the filmmakers can find that happy medium with the next one.  I know I'll be rooting for them.

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