Animal House

Review of “You’re Next”

By Vincent Abbatecola

youre-next-movie-image-05-600x302It seems that the subject of home invasion has become this year’s trend in horror movies. Earlier this summer, there was “The Purge,” which focused on a one-night-a-year free-for-all where people could murder each other without consequence. Now, the end of the season has brought the ominously titled “You’re Next.”

Home invasion is one of the scarier topics of terror because of its frightening plausibility. Directed by Adam Wingard, the film isn’t as tightly tense as it should be, but it holds a few treats that make it worth watching more than most films of the horror genre in the last few years.

Erin (Sharni Vinson) is invited by her boyfriend, Crispian (A.J. Bowen), to spend some time with his well-to-do family at their secluded vacation home. This includes his parents, two brothers and their girlfriends, and his sister and her boyfriend. In the middle of their dinner one night, a group of three animal-mask-wearing intruders suddenly and viciously attack. As the family attempts to do everything they can to survive the night, it turns out that one of them possesses the required skills to fight back.

Sharni Vinson, with the methods she uses to combat the assailants, has her character of Erin deserving to fall in the realm of tough horror movie heroes, such as Sidney Prescott of “Scream,” Nancy Thompson of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and Laurie Strode of “Halloween.” In this case, however, Erin could even be considered as a Horror Movie Protagonist 2.0 with how she handles herself in the film’s deadly situations. Erin is a strong individual who is positively fearless in the way she takes charge, and is a tremendously competent fighter.

She is also rather creative in her ways of taking down the killers, particularly in one scene where she finds a rather grisly way to use a blender as a tool for bloodshed, and she even takes down one attacker in a fashion similar to what James Stewart does to Raymond Burr in “Rear Window.” Some of the traps she sets also bring forth a bloody “Home Alone” vibe.

The screenplay by Simon Barrett presents a clever touch of how even the most well-off families have their share of problems. What gives this aspect a comical punch is when Erin tells Crispian how lucky he is to come from a good family, only to have the dinner table erupt into an argument the first night they all have dinner together. Some of the film’s best dark humor comes from the twist. Not to give anything away, but it goes back to the theme of family dysfunction that is shown in the dinner scene, and amps it up considerably. There’s even a good dose of biting irony at the film’s closing.

Although the dark wit helps to keep the movie afloat, there isn’t much tension throughout. There are some decent moments of dread in the first half, but once the twist reveals the killers’ identities at the middle mark, much of the film afterwards becomes fairly predictable, including the killers’ motives, which are revealed later on.

Director Wingard maintains the darkly humorous tone throughout the movie, even though the film’s second half isn’t quite as fun as the first. His use of wit in a slasher-movie backdrop is reminiscent of what Wes Craven did for his “Scream” films. If Wingard can integrate the smarts in any possible future horror-movie projects as he does with “You’re Next,” he can be one of the next directors to watch out for in this genre.

Final grade: B