Battering the senses with pulverising set-piece assaults
You're Next Blu-ray Review
After a spell languishing on the shelf alongside Cabin in the Woods for much of the time, Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett’s brutal survivalist/home invasion riff, You’re Next, found succour in the praise of critics and genre fans alike upon its eventual release from the Lionsgate merger doldrums.Bringing the house down at film festivals and gaining a strong reputation as a much-needed stab in the arm for the jaded, jaundiced slasher flick, it has a lot to live up to. And, if you get past some hugely signposted twists and revelations and manage to leap over the gaping chasm in the entire scenario’s execution, then you should have a great time as the sexy Sharni Vinson rallies the beleaguered remnants of her boyfriend’s eccentric and squabbling family together and leads the fight back against a pack of savage animal-masked attackers hell-bent on wiping them all out.Combining the shock tactics of Scream with the improvisational defences of The A-Team and Home Alone, You’re Next batters the senses with pulverising set-piece assaults, a stylised 80’s synth score, some agreeable splatter and a fine genre return for Scream Queen Barbara Crampton. But what makes a film that is nowhere near as deserving of its plaudits as the blurb would have you believe really worthwhile is the nostalgic debts it owes to Agatha Christie’s mansion-house family plots and Ten Little Indians cast reduction.
Blending improv acting with elaborate kills, the film never bores, but without Vinson’s vigorous performance it would surely collapse.
You're Next Blu-ray Picture Quality
Lionsgate provide You’re Next with a strong transfer that reveals just enough detail in the shadows, fine contrast and nice dimensionality. The 2.40:1 AVC-encoded image is deliberately swathed in earthy tones of brown and yellow, giving the film a rustic, autumnal aesthetic much like the recent The Conjuring. Creators Swinburn and Barrett assert that they took their visual cue from the isolated house itself, and this certainly seems to be the case. The screen is always awash in mahogany and various other shades of natural brown. But this does not mean the image stagnates and becomes bland. Rather it enables the setting and the décor to come to life. The film utilises the Red One camera and we’ve become quite used to this stark, smooth and clean style of photography. Even with a mostly interior and darkness-draped vision as this, the clarity is terrific and surprisingly warm.
Not an issue of the colour balance, but rather an active choice on the part of the filmmakers, the blood is actually a dark raspberry hue that, I’m afraid, does not look realistic and does not provide the necessary visceral spasm. To me, this looks like a compromise. Or a cop-out. This is an incredibly violent film, with lots of varied kills, all of which require slicing and dicing of some description, but each slaying cannot help but feel watered-down because of the gore has had any and all vitality robbed from it. Although contrast is good, would it not have been more effective to have splashed some garish claret around the country estate to spice things up a bit? Detail in the wounds, themselves, also reveals that some of the prosthetics are not as convincing as they ought to be, given the pedigree of those involved. A couple of gashed throats don’t cut the mustard. Skin-tones look fine to me and whilst they are quite grubby and yellowish, this seems in-keeping with the desired palette.
A strong transfer that reveals just enough detail in the shadows, fine contrast and nice dimensionality.
I will say that the blacks can be quite impervious to scrutiny, but there are lots of times when a killer’s mask will suddenly emerge from the gloom behind somebody, or a hand will creep into the shot from an unexpected place. Once sequence has a camera flash going off repeatedly to distract a killer prowling the deep dark of the basement. This delivers a crisp and sudden white-wash to the screen that some viewers may find disconcerting, especially those with sensitivity to such things. The effect is certainly jarring, so be warned. But the abrupt shift from murk to silvery detail for a swift flash of intensity is marvellously depicted.
I didn’t spot any banding or noise in the image. Edges have not been egregiously enhanced and remain smooth and natural. DNR is not an issue. Depth and three-dimensionality is good, but I feel that the overall earthy, muted appearance tends to lessen its effectiveness. One set-piece that features a slow-motion run towards the front door could possibly have benefitted from this aspect being sharper and bestowed more spacious depth within the frame. So, too, a couple of moonlit flights through the woods.
Overall, You’re Next looks quite bland on Blu, but this is a faithful transfer and embraces the filmmakers’ visual intentions with accuracy. Detail is good and the stylised aesthetic suits the grunginess of the unfolding carnage.
You're Next Blu-ray Sound Quality
Lionsgate always seem to deliver the goods with their audio mixes and You’re Next is no exception.
All the channels are utilised in what proves to be a sprightly and entertaining track that plays out with the emphasis upon the stingers and jolts and bludgeoning impacts of a relentless siege. The spread across the front has width and the surrounds are keenly brought-in throughout, leading to a decently immersive experience in the house of horror.
The sub certainly helps with some of the wallopage that goes on. Axe thrusts, hurled bodies and repeated cranial thumpings all play their part. One particularly nasty murder features all of the aforementioned, with the shattering of glass appropriately scintillating and galvanising and the various impacts the victim undergoes sounding full and weighty and quite unpleasant. Gunshots and body-blows carry heft and vigour.
Axe thrusts, hurled bodies and repeated cranial thumpings all play their part.
Dialogue is strongly presented at all times and even a few hushed backhand comments uttered under the breath sound genuine and naturally placed within the environment. Movement around the speakers is finely rendered, with good separation and panning. We get footsteps, alarming thumps upstairs and voices emanating from slyly prioritised vantage points around the house that the mix strategically places about you. This is not a haunted house tale, but there are some finely worrying effects sprinkled around the mix.
The score, which has been deliberately modelled upon James Horner’s synth and drum-pad music for Arnie’s Commando (but actually comes across more as an equally dated Euro-synth horror score), can be subtly arranged via ringtone seguing into specific cues of dramatic undercurrent or throbbing with resonant bass lines to help unnerve and engender dread. Particular attention is paid to a song that is left on repeat in a sound system in a neighbouring house – which is excellent, folks and really, really catchy – and this plays quite an important part in the sonic scheme of things. It sounds thick, warm and insistent and becomes quite an addictive element.
You're Next Blu-ray ExtrasWe don’t get much in the way of supplements, which is a shame as those involved are enthusiastic, knowledgeable and clearly in love with the genre.
No Ordinary Invasion: The making of You’re Next is just promo fluff shot on set and featuring too much footage from the film to pad out its meagre running time.
Better, by far, are the couplet of Commentaries.
The first is from the creative duo of Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett and the second allows the writer and director team to join actresses Sharni Vinson and Barbara Crampton for a spell of jovial reminiscence. There is understandably some overlap between the two as both cover conception, story and character, but the participants are engaging and passionate about bringing the scenario to life and trying to create something refreshing in the genre. There is a little bit of over-praising at times, but the tone is often very frank and freewheeling. If I had a complaint to make it would be regarding the slacker-spiel of the filmmakers, who punctuate long drawn-out observations with liberally drawled cannonades of “Um … like … erm … you know … like … er … ummm,” which can get a little, um, like, er maddening at times.
Is You're Next Blu-ray Worth Buying
Initially, folks, I was going to slate You’re Next. I’d been looking forward to it immensely, falling for the critical hype and exaggerated reviews it garnered, but I sussed all the twists and turns way before they were unveiled because of some rather clumsy shots that give the game away. Plus, the “plot” has many inconsistencies that couldn’t have flagged themselves up to me more brightly if they’d been strapped to emergency flares. Without giving anything away, there is no way that this attack would have been carried out in such an elaborate manner as we see perpetrated. After watching the film the first time I was consumed with burning, screaming questions of WHY DID THEY DO THAT? and WHY DID THEY DO THIS? Far too much of the execution is unbelievably unnecessary and once you realise that the whole thing could have been undertaken and perfected in less than two minutes, you may roll your eyes in as much exasperation as I did.
BUT… when you watch the film again, as I have done a couple of times now, you should find that the silliness of its premise is also its splendour. You can watch a host of unlikeable miseries getting slaughtered in uber-grisly fashion, and revel in the savagely beautiful fight back from a gorgeous heroine whose ferocity is breath-taking to behold and sensationally credible too. Get past the enormous number of influences and genre-fans can actually enjoy ticking off the homages/steals being made. From Agatha Christie to Mario Bava, from Scream to Scooby-Doo and from Stagefright to Home Alone. The animal head masks that the killers wear have mistakenly been attributed to The Wicker Man, but the concept seems to have been developed from the devious and sadistic trick that a bunch of nefarious sailors once played on a former colleague, resulting in his death in 19th Century Cornwall. You can’t deny that even the mask of a sheep becomes utterly chilling when sitting atop a combat-dressed assailant armed with machete, axe and crossbow and a profoundly unmerciful attitude.
Revel in the savagely beautiful fight back from a gorgeous heroine whose ferocity is breath-taking to behold and sensationally credible too.
Lionsgate mimic the US release with the same transfer and extras. The AV is strong, and highly stylised. Earthy, brown and sepia is the order of the day. But don’t forget the raspberry jam splatter. The audio is equally stylised with a lot of attention paid to the synth score and the use of songs, and the DTS HD MA track is a powerful and energised kill/jolt/stinger all-round assault of entertaining precision.
Reappraising my former opinion, then, I definitely recommend You’re Next. It is seriously flawed, but it is also genuinely hard to dislike a film as gleefully ruthless and cold-bloodedly amusing as this.
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