HOLLYWOOD—Making a clever, original horror picture is a difficult task in itself. The genre has been plagued by countless knock-offs in the recent 50 plus years since it exploded, but it’s about to change with “You’re Next.” I will admit when I first heard of the concept, it reminded me of “The Strangers” and then I thought of “The Purge.” I hate horror flicks that take familiar concepts and regurgitate the material; it’s pointless, but that is not the case here.
The movie revolves around a family gathering that turns into a fight for survival against three masked intruders that are quite calculating and vicious in their torment of the family. That is one concept that I’ve been yearning for; someone to make a horror flick that revolved around adults and not teenagers. “You’re Next” finds the right balance with a cast that includes Sharni Vinson, Barbara Crampton, AJ Bowenson and Nicholas Tucci. The horror genre is notorious for relying on those clichés that have defined the genre for decades, but this picture takes those clichés and manipulates them to its advantage.
Writer Simon Barrett weaves a chilling tale for a concept we’ve seen before in horror films, but what separates this film from others is the development of the characters. Its not character types we’re dealing with here; these are ‘real’ people, individuals that the audience will connect to and root for, blood relatives to be specific. Family is a unique element not fully utilized in most horror pictures, but “You’re Next” uses the blood element to its advantage. You have quarrels and disagreements, even resentment to some siblings, but under no circumstance would you want them dead.
This family has to bond together to fight against a trope of brutal killers wearing masks that represent animals. The violence in the picture is quite gratuitous to say the least. There are moments that could easily cause the spectator to want to leave the theater seat because it’s a bit too much. I would not recommend the flick for children in any manner; if you don’t have a babysitter, stay at home. Personally, I am not a fan of torture porn which has become prevalent thanks to the “Saw” franchise, this picture utilizes that as one element; it’s not the definition of the picture itself which is good to say the least.
The film also utilizes the element of comedy to bend the genre rules. Not many horror pictures are capable of doing such, because it ends up being a bit unbelievable if not carefully handled. Timing is key. Writer Kevin Williamson and director Wes Craven proved how comedy and wit could work well with the 1996 thriller “Scream,” which was parody of the horror genre itself. “You’re Next” doesn’t quite parody the genre, but addresses things in a humorous tone to balance the violent material.
People do die, but it’s not a typical slasher film where people die one-by-one without anyone realizing something is terribly wrong. That realization occurs very early on in the picture, which transforms it into a fight for survival. As we all know, in certain situations we can never rule out what someone is capable of, especially when their life is threatened.
Director Adam Wingard does a terrific job at building suspense for the picture. Bad things are happening and the build-up to those gotcha moments and scares are fantastic. It’s been awhile since a horror film has had me on the edge of my seat. “You’re Next” is a fresh tale on horror, proving that originality is the element that separates a stellar picture from a so-so movie.
By LaDale Anderson