Now playing at Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas.
Full confession: I didn’t really know what I was going to see when I signed up for the You’re Next screening. I walked into the theatre and saw a hundred or so people wearing scary tiger masks. I took my place somewhat nervously beside a couple who were smooching creepily through their masks, and quickly figured out that I was writing up a horror movie, not a Disney flick.
Alas, the creepy scenario I walked into (note to self: must pen screenplay about a movie critic who gets offed by a group of farm-animal-loving horror fans) was more entertaining than the bulk of You’re Next, tantalizing though the trailers may be.
A dysfunctional, well-off family finds itself under siege in an isolated country home, in classic horror home-invasion style (think Last House on the Left, Straw Dogs, Evil Dead). Middle-aged parents (Larry Fessenden, Barbara Crampton) have invited their 30-something kids up for the weekend to celebrate their anniversary. But that Awkward Family Photos-style portrait on the wall suggests that the milestone won’t go smoothly.
Crispian (A.J. Bowen) arrives first with his Aussie girlfriend Erin (Sharni Vinson), dodging questions about a stalled career. Pompous older brother Trey (Joe Swanberg) arrives with his wife and a suitcase full of putdowns and noogies for Crispian. Felix and goth girlfriend Zee (Nicholas Tucci and Wendy Glenn) are smart enough to stay quiet, sulking in the background. There’s a daughter, too (Aimee Seimetz), daddy’s little princess.
Zee cracks her gum during grace and puts her feet up on the chair, so she’s clearly bad news; mom is on some kind of medication. If the brotherly bickering turns things sour, what happens next really ruins dinner. The dining room quickly contains one corpse, one wounded, and everyone runs for cover, using wingback chairs as shields.
Erinturns out to be the best equipped in a crisis, confessing that she grew up with a paranoid, survivalist daddy in the outback. The guys in this family really need to man up: they say “I’m right behind you,” and then flee, and send women on their own to investigate the basement. That’s a deal-breaker, ladies.
The attacks start out fairly conventionally, progressing to the desperate and the ridiculous (brain smoothie, anyone?). It wouldn’t be fun if the family followed some simple rules, like investing in curtains, never splitting up, or refusing to utter the inevitably deadly phrase “everything’s going to be OK, I promise.”
The film offers plenty of laughs along with the high body count, and at times it feels like cheating, a slasher pic that is that self-mocking. The Davison dynamics provide comic relief (“would you just die already?” pleads one family member to another), but the film relies heavily on “boo” moments, the nervous-tick camerawork is unnecessary, and the soundtrack sounds a bit like the “Sounds of Halloween” CD I bought from the dollar store.
The cast is suitably hammy: many are horror veterans. At first glance mom seems entirely too young for elastic waist pants and sensible shoes, but she’s the remarkably well-preserved Barbara Crampton, whom I remember from my high school days watching The Young and the Restless. Vinson has great fun cleaning up after the boys, who are suitably clueless.
No thinking involved here: moviemakers are very careful to explain complicated stuff (like cell phone signal loss) and let us in on the killer(s)identity early, which explains those menacing animal masks. It may not wow serious horror aficionados but if you like your plasma with a side of humour, You’re Next will satisfy.
© Copyright 2013