(Tigers, and Foxes, and Lambs oh my) You’re Next Review

You’re Next Review
By Bret Dorman

Slasher films come in two types.

The first is where we really care for the characters and hate to see them get slaughtered. In these slasher films, the danger of getting killed means drawing tension in close calls and tight escapes. The stakes are intimate so we can identify and relate to the characters who are being offed. Each death is felt with remorse and sadness.

The second kind is the gorefest variety. Where the bloody carnage is the true star. We willingly sacrifice happy moments and character futures for a high body count with creative deaths. Characters are more one dimensional and the scare factor is replaced with brutal power. There’s usually a gimmick of some sort to help tell the movies apart.

The biggest problem with You’re Next is that it spends so much time trying to scare and not enough time showing the gore.

The Lamb.

The Lamb.

The Story: A family that doesn’t get along well decides spending an entire weekend together would be a great idea. Unfortunately for Erin (Sharni Vinson), who’s relationship to one of the family members is merely “girlfriend,” that means dealing with awkward conversations and… deadly killers?! Three crazy people start slaughtering the family one by one, who must fight back or die! Also, the killers wear animal masks for no reason.

Let’s get three things clear.

1) I love gimmicks in movies, especially slasher flicks. I don’t think they should be shied away from, but rather embraced. Slasher flicks contain relatively simple stories. Let the style shine through!

2) I love love LOVE movie violence, especially in slasher flicks/gorefest movies. Whether its silly and over the top (Evil Dead) or grounded and gritty (The Devil’s Rejects), I can appreciate well constructed violent one-off slayings and brutal showdowns. I can even find humor in bashing someone’s head into mulch (Sin City).

3) I love movies that “go for it.” I hate wasted potential, especially when its done in favor of making a movie more bland. Sometimes I like a movie even though it’s missing that special “X Factor” to really make it a knockout, like Bunraku or Sucker Punch. But what I really admire about those movies is that they go for it. They really go for it.

The Tiger.

The Tiger.

You’re Next is a disappointment on all three levels. There are some moments that are admirable in spirit, especially when it comes to ‘main character’ Erin, the Aussie with Attitude. But for the most part, this movie just becomes some people stabbing people, in extreme close ups with little focus on gore, and really drops any potential in favor of trying to outsmart its audience while never knowing if it wants to be badass or cheesy. Don’t get me wrong, there are ways to do both, badass AND cheesy (see: Dead Alive), but here the bad is not “so bad its good” or as I like to say “done with earnest heart,” it is just bad.

Some of the things I keep seeing in other reviews are the words “comedy”, “humor”, and “funny”. But I honestly don’t get this. If the characters are meant to be funny, shouldn’t they be more over the top? More self-indulgent? More comedic? I get that once shit starts going down, its “funny” to have the characters keep arguing about who is a better runner or why no one ever pays attention to them. But if the characters are going to keep up their petty arguments despite being slaughtered, shouldn’t we then get enjoyment out of their downfall? Make stupid annoying characters that are basically designed to be fodder and I am going to root for their brutal deaths. I mean, I’m watching a slasher movie. Presumably I’m watching the “the second kind” as described earlier, you know, since these characters are unrelatable idiots.

The Fox.

The Fox.

Which leads me to the worst part… watching the family members get offed in various ways is more of a chore in this movie than fist pumping moments to shout “yeah you got what you deserved you buttheads!” I didn’t think a slasher could have the same problems as an action movie, but apparently it is possible to shoot slasher-kills in mostly close ups and fast editing, taking away the visceral impact of what the gory special effects and make up crew could have accomplished much more effectively. So if the writing and acting were bad, somehow informing the characters that they were also bad, I wouldn’t mind as long as I got to see some blood and guts. Don’t get me wrong. You’re Next has some good ideas and an obvious awareness of the genre, but the execution is lackluster at best.

Awesome Poster. Really Awesome.

Awesome Poster. Really Awesome.

Even once Erin starts taking out the baddies, the movie sputters like a lawn mower struggling to start. Every now and then is a glimpse of what could have been. And then the movie stalls. Erin shows the only competence as she struggles to stay one step ahead of her assailants. In-between her showing off her survival instincts, the audience is treated to an increasingly groan inducing series of plot twists, character motivations, and scenes of bad guys yelling at one another. If this movie was a roller coaster ride, there would be more up hill parts than down hill ones. The math here just doesn’t add up.

Ultimately I wouldn’t care if a slasher film was just a mediocre entry into the genre; after all, that’s what most of it is. The part that really saddens me is that the stuff I do like here is mostly gone to waste. I like the idea of the animal masks (even if they do cut off the killers’ vision). I like the idea of psycho killers in over their head by underestimating some Australian chick. I love the score for the movie, a sort of synth-techno pulse that highlights the (would-be) tension and pumps up the (would-be) badass action. Sharni Vinson delivers a solid performance and it sucks the rest of the movie couldn’t be as on point.

In Conclusion, my rules of enjoyment for slasher flicks differ from other movies. I enjoy a certain level of camp, craziness, and cinematic shortcuts. So to make a slasher flick that ultimately boils down to a couple of good kills, one badass character, and a good score; I can’t help but wonder what’s the point? It’s 2013. If I’m supposed to be watching a “bad” film, I need it to be like the Grindhouse movies, including Machete and Hobo With A Shotgun. Or if its supposed to be a hardcore badass movie, I need it to be like Midnight Meat Train or The Raid: Redemption. Otherwise I can’t praise bad work as humorous or exceptional.

Final Grade: D

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