Blending improv acting with elaborate kills, the film never bores
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, with the caveats listed below, 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.
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. 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. However, for me, what makes the film, that is nowhere near as deserving of its plaudits as the blurb would have you believe really, worthwhile is the nostalgic debt it owes to Agatha Christie’s mansion-house family plots and Ten Little Indians cast reduction.
Pulverising set-piece assaults, stylised 80’s synth score, agreeable splatter and a return for Scream Queen Barbara Crampton
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.
Blending improv acting with elaborate kills, the film never bores, but without Vinson’s vigorous performance it would surely collapse. 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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