I went into this film with quite a bad attitude: I expected to watch a generic family get hacked to bits by equally generic masked assailants, The Strangers-style. After the opening title, my prejudice was beginning to be confirmed. Quickly, the film picked up and I realized that You’re Next did not come straight from the cookie cutter. Instead, it’s an action filled romp with well placed horror themes.
The synopsis: a wealthy family reunites to celebrate their parents’ milestone wedding anniversary. Once they arrive and sit down for dinner, tempers flare and all hell breaks loose.
To say that this is just another ‘Home Invasion’ film is to sell its novelty short. Sure, it has death, tension, and more death, but it also features depth. While the audience likely couldn’t care less about some of the characters, partly due to some uneven acting, the performances of AJ Bowen, Sharni Vinson, and Joe Swanberg are quite convincing. There’s even a short-lived part featuring Ti West (director of The House of the Devil).
There’s also the violence, and it’s rather satisfying. It is not simply violence for the sake of violence, you know, the difference between Saw and Saw VI. The violence is used as a device to convey emotion, develop the characters, and progress the story. Near the end, though, there’s a bit that feels needlessly excessive and somewhat disrupts the atmosphere.
Disregarding the action for a paragraph, this is a busy film. There are a handful of subtle yet notable stylistic elements going on: the CD set on repeat, the frequent cut to the front door to build tension, etc. Importantly, there is somewhat of a legitimate story to be told. Characters have and act on motives and, though a bit contrived, are relatable. This is surely not Funny Games where things just seem to happen without a particular cause.
You’re Next greatly exceeded my expectations and is perhaps the best home invasion film to date.