Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011, You’re Next quickly garnered critical and fan acclaim for being a unique entry into the home invasion genre. After its theatrical release a couple of years later, it quickly out-earned its relatively small budget of $1 million. How did it do that you may ask? Well, check out the trailer below and then continue on down for the review, unless you’re worried about spoilers.
Reviewed by: Jack
The movie opens quickly on a couple being brutally killed in a rural cabin by some masked assailants. Notably, one of the initial victims is played by the apparently omnipresent Larry Fessenden. After killers scrawl “You’re Next” onto the wall in Fess’s hallowed blood, we begin the narrative proper.
Enter the black sheep of an old-money family of douches Crispian (A. J. Bowen), and his new-ish girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson). Crispian is bringing Erin to his parent’s rural estate to introduce her to the family. Right off the bat, things do not go well and a heated argument breaks out over the dinner table. Just as things are really heating up, a crossbow bolt sails through one of the windows and nails one of the less-central characters whose name I’ve forgotten.
The mansion comes under full-on siege by our home-invaders, Lamb Mask, Tiger Mask, and Wolf Mask. Except, you know . . . not really a siege proper because none of them brought guns . . . for some reason. Even so, they’re pretty oppressive bad guys, but luckily for the victims, Erin is a secret bad-ass who was raised as a survivalist.
The movie then progresses through a flurry of deaths and fights as Erin defends the house from the invaders. One particularly noteworthy death comes as one of the daughters runs outside trying to get to a car in a full-on sprint, but gets caught by a garrotte wire trap exactly at neck level and slices the shit out her throat. It’s a cool shot cinematically, but the usefulness of the trap is questionable at best, as a the only way it’s helpful is if a woman of exactly that height hits it a literally full speed.
Eventually, after the killers have taken out most of the family and Erin has killed Wolf Mask and wounded Lamb Mask, we find out that the whole thing was a plot by a two of the kids to kill off the parents and any other siblings and inherit a fortune. And the killers were apparently willing to work off of credit, I guess.
Understandably, this does not sit well with Erin, who then kills all of the remaining motherfuckers, including Crispian, despite his best efforts to convince her that they have a solid relationship. The movie ends with a police officer seeing Erin kill one of the bad guys, shooting her, but then falling victim to a trap she had set up for Lamb Mask. Whoopsie-Daisey!
What the Movie Does Right
A lot of things. The dialog and and acting are particularly laudible. The good dialog may be attributable to this being a mumblegore movie, except that . . . even after research I can’t figure out exactly what in the fuck that means.
The score and sound editing are also great. There are a couple of regrettable moments of foley art where something being pulled out of flesh makes a really unrealistic noise, but for the most part, it’s top notch. The effects are overall really great too. It’s not unassailable, but it is really strong.
And then there’s Erin. Erin is an awesome and unstoppable badass who does the smart and strong thing throughout the entire movie. She fucking rules. I will not hear otherwise.
What the Movie Does Wrong
This is relatively nit-picky stuff. There’s the sound issues that I mentioned above, and a couple of times, the blood looks more like dark water. Also, there are a few minor nits to pick with the plot. The garrotte wire I mentioned in the plot comes to mind, as do a few other things that don’t make a ton of sense, but ultimately don’t detract from the movie. This movie weighs way heavier on its strengths than it does its weaknesses.
Story: 7 - It’s hard to be wildly original within the home invasion subgenre, but this movie does about a good a job as you can do without venturing into absurd territory. The twist in this thing feels well earned, and they did a good job with the basic well worn territory too. It’s not without issues, but it is really solid.
World-Building / Immersion: 6 - This is more of a personal thing than anything else, as home invasion movies don’t really do it for me. Even so, this is really solid. There’s a few little moments here and there that took me out, but this is a pretty goddamned immersive movie.
Scare-Factor: 6 - This is a pretty scary movie, and the masked intruders feel really oppressive and scary, but holy shit was it annoying that they didn’t just bring guns. It’s evidenced at the end when the cop just shoots Erin through a window and she goes down instantly. Meanwhile, one of our masked assailants pegs someone dead in the shoulder with his crossbow, and the guy is still able to move and run around for a while.
Effects (or Judicious Lack Thereof): 7 - I think the effects are overall really good. And even when the blood doesn’t look great (there’s one scene involving a nail and a boot in particular), the rest of the effects still made me squirm.
Overall: 7 - This is about as solid an entry into the home invasion genre as I can imagine. If you haven’t seen this yet, then do yourself a favor and give it a watch. It even gets better on multiple viewings.