Craig's First Take: "You're Next"

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When the Davison family comes under attack during their wedding anniversary getaway, the gang of mysterious killers soon learns that one of victims harbors a secret talent for fighting back.
3.5

I’m wondering how “You’re Next” is going to play with genre fans. It’s at times unnerving, at others ridiculous and goofy, but altogether not as scary as you might think. It’s from director Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett, who debuted the film at the Toronto Film Festival in 2011 and since then have gone on to produce segments for cult horror films like “V/H/S” and its sequel. Their movie may not send you cowering, but it’s interesting in the way it plays with the hunter vs. prey format and like I said, it is incredibly tense.

The plot concerns Paul (Rob Moran) and Aubrey (Barbara Crampton) inviting their children to their new home to celebrate a 35th wedding anniversary. The victims…I mean the children all arrive with a significant other on their arm. Aimee (Amy Seimetz) has brought Tariq (Ti West), Felix (Nicholas Tucci) has brought Zee (Wendy Glenn), Drake (Joe Swanberg) has brought Kelly (Margaret Laney), and Crispian (AJ Bowen) has brought Erin (Sharni Vinson). Conversation during dinner leads us to finding that Tariq is an underground filmmaker, Drake is a pretentious ass, Crispian is a financially struggling professor, and the family has some issues they need to work out.

This is all before some very creepy guys wearing masks show up with cross-bows and axes ready to hunt this family down. There are jump scares here that do work, and some I even appreciated for their lack of predictability, and this is another horror movie that revels (definitely too much at times) in its own bloody death. And whoever came up with this specific animal masks should get major credit, it’s a very freaky prop.

But then this movie has a twist midway through that surprised me, where it becomes this “Home Alone” meets “Die Hard” meets “The Strangers” hybrid (that's not the twist, I haven't given it away) and orchestrating all this deadly revenge is a beaten-up but incredibly resourceful hero in Erin. This movie will hopefully do for Vinson what “Halloween” did for Jamie Lee Curtis, she’s just that good. Of course it helps that the rest of this family is so bad. Whimpering, selfish, and incredibly moronic (watch one think she can escape by running “superfast” out of the house), they serve as comic relief, and the worst people to ever be stranded with.

Unfortunately this movie spends so much time empowering Erin that at a certain point her rootability starts to overshadow whatever fear these masked men pose and the scariness of it kinda evaporates. But having a great hero is by no means a penalty and it’s a blast watching her unmask and give these guys what they deserve.