You’re Next: Horror Movie Review


You’re Next (2011; U.S. release date 2013)
Director: Adam Wingard
Starring: Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg and AJ Bowmen

Slicing and dicing just doesn’t cut it anymore. Straight-up slasher flicks are nowhere as popular as they once were. Most of the popular horror movies I’ve come across lately involve the supernatural, a science fiction twist, monsters, grisly torture contraptions, found footage, or Kristen Stewart. That last one is a horror for very different reasons.

After too many sequels and remakes, slashers films have become stale, predictable and cliché ridden. It’s easy to understand why the average movie fan has outgrown the basic plot of a masked man on a killing spree. In several ways, You’re Next is a tip of the hat to a subgenre of slasher films: the horror home invasion movie. But can You’re Next breathe new life into a dying subgenre of film?

The set up for You’re Next is fairly standard but it has potential: Crazed masked killers terrorize a family reunion in a remote Missouri vacation house. The central figure of the movie is Erin (Sharni Vinson), the Australian girlfriend of eldest sibling Crispian (AJ Bowmen). Erin embodies both the strengths and problematic issues with this movie.

While most of the house guests are forgettable and essentially serve to pad the body count, Erin is the one person to remain level-headed when the poop hits the fan. Her strong survival instincts make it was easy to root for her, unlike other horror flicks where we are secretly hoping witless characters get quickly knocked off.

Sharni Vinson as axe-weilding Erin in You're Next

Certain conventions in horror movies are often used because they are effective in making the audience feel helpless and scared. One of these tropes is for the female protagonist to endure endless trauma but by the end attain a heighten level of empowerment in defeating the killer. Because Erin is very capable at staying alive throughout the movie, I rarely feel she’s in real danger even as the odds are stacking against her. Any palpable sense of terror or fear is not fully evoked here.

The final kill is typically the most empowering and satisfying but without a conventional character arc, it dulls the edge to what should be an emphatic climax. Overall, there’s not much ingenuity to the way characters are killed except for the inventive use of a kitchen appliance and a perfectly placed razor-sharp wire. You’re Next doesn’t push the envelope in the gore department either. But even though some of the hacking and slashing is not explicitly shown it can be more impactful when left to the imagination of the viewer.

Without giving away too much about the killers, I like the look of the animal mask even though it’s not as iconic as Jason’s goalie mask or the William Shatner mask in Halloween. I wish there was a back story or mythology explained as to why the animal mask is used in order to give some depth to the killers and to explain why a simple black ski mask would not suffice.

Every slasher film needs its identity which the animal masked killers could have been. However when the mask comes off any sense of mystery and danger is lost. It also calls into question why the killer puts the mask back on after taking it off. There are twists and turns that I didn’t see coming in particular as to who’s behind the killings. As it turns out, the motivation for murdering the family is paper-thin and doesn’t hold up well under closer scrutiny.

You’re Next is a decent slasher flick, it momentarily satisfies the appetite for cheap thrills though some horror fans will likely be left craving for something with more substance and bite. While You’re Next has a capable lead character, it doesn’t have an iconic killer to carry the film. You’re Next won’t reignite the popularity of slashers or home invasion movies because it’s a pale imitation of fan favourite classics. But for those who have a strong affinity for this film genre, it’s still worth checking out.

Other Movie Reviews You Might Like:

Cabin In The Woods Movie Review

Resident Evil: Retribution Movie Review

Posted on January 19, 2014, in Movies, Review and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 44 Comments.

  1. Good review. I like this less than you, but this is fair all the same.

  2. Goes to show you what can happen when you just have a good, old-school home-invasion thriller that plays it short, sweet and rather simple. But also, doesn’t back-out on what makes them so much fun to watch in the first place. Good review.

    • Very true, this is a old-school home invasion thriller, it’s a throwback to a simple formula. It could have been more terrifying but I think horror fans will likely find this one fun to watch. Thanks Dan!

  3. Terrific stuff, bud! I personally really loved this flick. Your dead on about the slasher genre fading into history, hopefully this flick can start its revival. It’s intelligent, fun, and entertaining, seemingly not hard criteria for filmmakers to stick to.

    • The slasher is becoming a rare breed even though other types of horror films are still relatively popular. The ingredients for a good slasher are straightforward, maybe one day we’ll see a true revival. Thanks so much for checking out the review & commenting!

  4. Im not really a big slasher film fan but this looks interesting. I’ll give it a go if it ever turns up on Netflix. Good review

  5. Great review. Is this really the second coming when it comes to slasher movies? It seems to have had a lot of good press in that regard. Judging by your review, it doesn’t sound like it does enough that’s genuinely new though. Should get to see it this week myself, hopefully.

    • Thanks Monkeyboy. I don’t feel it’s the second coming of slashers/home invasion movies, but as you mentioned it’s received a lot of positive press/reviews. In some areas it doesn’t take the conventional route but it leads to mixed results. If you get the chance to see it, let me know what you think.

  6. I loved it and thought it was a lot of fun 😀

  7. I LOVED it!! : )

  8. Good day to you sir, good review.

    Firstly before we begin, hahaha at that Kristen Stewart line, that was bloody funny and I totally agree. 😛

    As for the film I remember seeing the trailers for this in the cinema last summer and it looked genuinely creepy and scary. However since it looked like there would be only one survivor, who was a girl, who would somehow have to confront and kill the killers in some empowering kind of way, I just said to myself that I wasn’t down for it. Plus Evil Dead had severely crushed my dreams for anything new or interesting to come out of the horror genre (and I hate horror films).

    Sounds like an interesting film but probably not one I’ll check out unless you’d fully recommend it?

    • Good day to you too sir 🙂

      Haha, I wasn’t sure if the KS line would be funny, but glad to hear it is!

      Yeah the trailers are genuinely creepy, but I didn’t think the movie itself was scary (not for me anyways). You’re dead on about the story, the girl is never the damsel in distress or the victim, quite the opposite actually. There were moments were I had doubts as to who’d survive at the every end but it was a fake out. Since you hate horror films I can’t see this one being anything new or different enough to get your interest. I wouldn’t fully recommended to you based on your view of horrors. 🙂

  9. I have such feeble nerves so horror is NOT for me. This one is definitely too scary for me, ahah.

  10. Great review…and it made me wonder till I read this part> As it turns out, the motivation for murdering the family is paper-thin and doesn’t hold up well under closer scrutiny.
    I love horror and thriller but not much of a slasher fan, especially when the motive for the mass killing is not clear

    • Thanks Nov! Yeah, slashers generally have a basic plot which is another reason why the genre is not interesting enough for some. The motivation in this movie is simple.but there are other ways to get what they want without killing 🙂

  11. Good review. I used to really enjoy these types of slasher films when I was younger. Was thinking about checking this one out though it doesn’t sound all that great here. Still might check it out if I get the chance though. I must say those animal masks are pretty creepy.

    • Thanks Matthew! Maybe over time we grow to like more complex stories than slasher films? If you’re ever in the mood for some bloody thrills, it’s not a bad way to spend an evening but don’t expect to be blown away 🙂 I find the animal masks pretty creepy too!

  12. Good written review. Specifically your points on this failing in terms of the animals mask becoming an iconic killer. I never understood why they took it off so often, and ruled out all chances. I personally think the look could have joined the ranks of a Myers or Jason if they were used better. I seen Lego figures that were created, and these masks were among the rankings, but due to the way the script progressed, I just do not they are worthy.

    • Thank you very much! In some ways the identity of the animal mask killers is a twist from the usual formula but it didn’t work for me. I do have ideas on how a sequel can fix some of the issues I had. The look of the mask is pretty good though. I agree the script could have progressed better, glad to know I’m not the only one that feels that way. Thanks again for commenting and checking out the review.

  13. At least this flick had an edge that sets it apart from the murderous pack.
    In this bland day and age, that’s saying something.

  14. Great review, I agree with a lot of your points. I thought You’re Next is a wasted opportunity and fails to bring anything noteworthy to the used-up home invasion story. However, it does feature some impressive scenes, kills and gore and is entertaining for the most part. Vinson is a refreshing and likeable heroine, but she isn’t given enough to do apart from embracing her inner Rambo, it’s fun to watch for a while but gets tiresome towards the end. Every other character is there to be killed for our entertainment, no one particularly stands out.

    • Very nicely said. It is entertaining for the most part and in general it’s fun that the heroine is the true “killer” of the movie but like you said she doesn’t get much to do other than embrace her inner Rambo. Most of the other characters aren’t memorable and as an audience I’m just waiting for them to get killed off. Great to hear your point of view, thanks so much for checking out the review and commenting.

  15. I was planning to give this one a shot but after your review, perhaps not. Cheers for the heads up SideKick 😛

  16. Not heard of this but it’s definitely the sort of horror film I like. It’s also the sort of horror film I most often find flaws in! I’ll keep my expectations in check for this!

  17. Victor De Leon

    This movie was so bad ass on so many levels. My son and I had a blast with it. Your review was stellar! Good job 😉

  1. Pingback: You’re Next (2013) Review | Tim's Film Reviews

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