Starring Sharni Vinson, A.J. Bowen, and Barbara Crampton. Rated 18A.
For all the gorehounds who’ve ever wondered how Jason Voorhees and a couple of his clones might operate in a home-invasion scenario, have I got a flick for you.
In You’re Next, it’s wedding-anniversary time for the wealthy Davison couple (Rob Moran and horror icon Barbara Crampton of Re-Animator fame), who invite their four grown children and their significant others to their secluded mansion for a family reunion. After a modicum of character development—enough to give you a vague idea of who’s good and who’s a judgmental bastard/self-centred bitch—the group sits down to eat. Two bickering brothers (A.J. Bowen and Joe Swanberg) set off a loud argument, and soon afterward all (screaming) hell breaks loose.
An arrow through a dining-room window kick-starts a marathon of old-school death-dealing, with the crossbow action soon accompanied by the trusty machete, axe, or whatever else can be brutally drawn across a person’s throat or driven into their skull.
A Horrible Way to Die director Adam Wingard’s update of/homage to the gore-based body-count flicks of the ’80s is quite suspenseful early on and energetic in the middle, and also sports a couple of decent twists. But we’ve seen it all before, especially the part about one potential victim proving surprisingly well-equipped to fight back.
The Goblin-like soundtrack that pops up here and there seems totally out of place (this ain’t Argento), and the efforts to sprinkle laughs into the nasty mix—“I’m the fastest, but I have this arrow in my back”—are an unnecessary distraction. The film’s transformation from bleeding-out grim to blender-on-the-head silly is pretty hard to take, and by the middle of its long-winded, climactic confession-spiel even gorehounds may welcome the end.