You’re Next review: the lack of suspense is killing me

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You're Next red light Sharni Vinson

Oh, it’s horrific, all right: wooden performances and stilted exposition, punctuated by bouts of random bloody sadism.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Alas for You’re Next, I saw it mere days after The Purge surprised me by turning the tropes of the home-invasion horror flick upside down in much the same way that The Cabin in the Woods did for cabin-in-the-woods horror flicks. The genre is now spoiled for me, unless someone does something very clever with it. Director Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett do not do anything clever with it, and it’s hard to imagine how I would have warmed up to their obscene gorefest even if I’d seen it pre-Purge, back in 2011, when it debuted at the Toronto Film Festival. It’s that rote, and worse, it is awkward in its mundanity, wooden performances by a mostly embarrassingly amateurish cast punctuated by bouts of random bloody sadism. Animal-masked murderers descend, seemingly without motive, upon the reunion of the Davison clan at their rambling mansion in the middle of nowhere, at which point the various parents, adult children, and significant others histrionically overreact or implausibly underreact, and almost to a one behave in ways that are so ridiculous or unsympathetic that one is tempted to say, Fuck ’em, let ’em die. Except it turns out not to be fun to watch even these people suffer horribly. Yet I never cared, either, why this was being perpetrated upon them. When we do find out why, it’s so nonsensically preposterous that it can only have been an attempt at humor. (Spoiler: It’s not funny.) The stilted exposition — “They must be using a cell phone jammer. They’re illegal but you can buy them on the Internet for like 30 bucks” — is frequently fairly horrific, but that’s about the only truly terrifying aspect of the film. I think we’re meant to cheer and be surprised that the girlfriend (Sharni Vinson: Step Up 3D) of one of the Davison boys is cool and competent in the midst of this crisis. Woe is us if that is considered a “twist.”

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Thu, Aug 22, 2013 11:25pm

I suppose someone will pop up to defend this as “turn off your brain” fodder. But aren’t there enough films that can’t be enjoyed without deliberately suppressing one’s critical faculties? There certainly doesn’t seem to be any shortage of the blasted things. Why would even a dedicated fan of the genre pay to see this when there are hundreds of other home-invasion bloodbath films out there on fifty-movies-for-a-few-bucks DVDs?

reply to  RogerBW
Fri, Aug 23, 2013 12:43am

I get the impression that dedicated fans of the genre see every film in the genre, so they’ve already seen the hundreds of other home-invasion bloodbath films. We can ask them if that’s true when they show up to complain about the review.

reply to  Danielm80
Fri, Aug 23, 2013 4:58pm

When I was a teen, we used to watch generic horror movies all the time. We recognized that most of them were bad, however, and would never think to go troll some Internet critic for not thinking they were cinematic gold.

reply to  BrianJKelly
Sat, Aug 24, 2013 2:16pm

Our hostess has been quite open about the fact that she doesn’t find horror films frightening, but her reviews of them are always fair. I’m a horror fan, but this one looks like a stinker. Having said that, Ill probably end up watching this at some point. I can’t say I haven’t been warned, though!

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 1:50am

For a change YOU’RE the one in minority on this one. :)

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  dkimmel
Fri, Aug 23, 2013 10:31am

I’m in the minority plenty often. Doesn’t bother me.

Tonio Kruger
reply to  dkimmel
Wed, Sep 18, 2013 9:57pm

When we mention this film, we’re not exactly talking about a classic that merits comparing with the likes of John Carpenter’s Halloween, Brian DePalma’s Carrie or even Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead. In fact, the producers of this flick will be lucky if anyone even remembers it five years from now.

reply to  Tonio Kruger
Wed, Sep 18, 2013 10:05pm

We’ll see. This film was a huge hit at SXSW and then the distributor sat on it for two years and released during the end of the summer dumping ground. I suspect this will be ripe for discovery on cable and DVD.

Tonio Kruger
reply to  dkimmel
Sat, Feb 22, 2014 2:37am

Well, for what it’s worth, critic John Kenneth Muir is on your side. However, I’m still not convinced that the film is all that good. And even Muir can err once in a great while.

Tonio Kruger
Wed, Sep 18, 2013 9:53pm

This is not the worst horror film I have ever seen but it’s not one that I’m in a big hurry to see again either.

Once you get past the fact that the traditional final girl is being played by an Aussie who looks suspiciously like Taylor Swift, there are not a whole lot of surprises left in this film. Indeed, the most charitable thing I can say about this film is that the movie as a whole is about as imaginative as the title.