(The gist: I thoroughly enjoyed You’re Next. Was it expertly crafted horror? No. Was it profound and gripping story telling? Not so much. But it was entertaining as hell.)
Home Alone for adults: yes, it is as fun as it sounds. And that is what You’re Next was for me, a fun horror movie. Fun is not a term frequently thrown around in horror, but it has its own place in the genre (and of course, it is still twisted and depraved fun). Just like cultivating fear or disgust, infusing fun into a horror movie is its own unique talent.
You’re Next falls into the home invasion horror category. Home invasion horror proves particularly effective for me as it exploits my own real life fears. Yes, I am terrified that some psychopath will materialize out of the dark when I am home alone; that is a realistic and frightening scenario.
The movie centers around the dysfunctional Davison family, who has gathered at their “cabin” (read: huge rustic house) to celebrate a wedding anniversary. Enter creepy mask-donning murderers, and we have our plot. Little do these methodical attackers know that Erin, one of the brother’s girlfriends, harbors an impressive talent for survival.
In the beginning, I was relatively uninterested. The opening murder seen was entertaining enough and peaked my curiosity, but the Davisons as a family bored me. They were flat and not intriguing. I had trouble tracking who was family, who was with who, and how they all related to each other. Mostly because I did not care. I fell victim to multitasking (bad movie viewer!).
However, once the violence amped up once again and Erin’s unconventional talents were revealed, I was back in it. The inflated cast start dropping like flies, and the truly worthwhile aspects of the movie are revealed.
Undoubtedly, my favorite part of the film was the carnage. The gore was either comically creative (blending a skull, what?) or straight gut-wrenching (clotheslining oneself into a slit throat), both extremes that I completely enjoy. I was either laughing out loud or cringing and covering my eyes. Win-win. It made it fun to watch with a viewing partner, to see and hear the reactions.
Erin’s survivalist improvisation skills, which are all together fascinating and amusing enough on their own, brought in the much-appreciated adult Home Alone feel. The majority of the story has the characters cycling through the many entrances and exits of the one house, trying to get or elude each other. Sound familiar, no? Add in some truly creepy masks and traps intended to maim and/or kill, and the movie is elevated from holiday family classic to absolutely enjoyable horror.
Nothing like a gruesome twist on a nostalgic childhood association; I loved it.
The first plot twist even worked on me (no spoilers!). I saw the second twist coming (still no spoilers!), but I really could not begrudge the movie that. I liked them both and the ending. And in a post M. Night Shymalan world of forced revelations and desperately failed attempts at plot twists, that is something to appreciate.
I had been given glowing recommendations for You’re Next, and I was not disappointed. Initially, I began to expect a flat but gory run through home invasion. Instead, a blend of traumatic death and injury scenes and Home Alone reminiscent character ingenuity made the movie simply fun and entertaining with an adequate dose of horror.
Watch with friends over drinks.