You’re Next a bloody homage to '80s gore flicks

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      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.


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      A. MacInnis

      Aug 22, 2013 at 1:34pm

      I love that Joe Swanberg is participating in this stuff... I was aware of him from his Mumblecore movies but he's made some great contributions to horror (he's the guy who gets stabbed in the neck in V/H/S/, which has to be one of the best gore effects of all time; and he directed a sequence in it - the Skype one, I believe).

      I really want to see this film. Newt, you see A Horrible Way to Die, also by Wingard? It's not perfect but has some very nice moments (it's sort of "a serial killer, his ex-girlfriend, and his fanboys" - again including Swanberg; it ends up way lower key than you'd expect but builds suspense nicely).

      6 24Rating: -18

      Steve Newton

      Aug 22, 2013 at 2:06pm

      Nope, never saw A Horrible Way to Die, Big Al. But I did see a lot of horrible ways to die in You're Next. They don't do much for me anymore, though. Seen too many Friday the 13ths, I guess. Like all 12

      A. MacInnis

      Aug 24, 2013 at 5:58pm

      Yeah, you know, Steve - I expected to like this more than you did, but I ended up pretty much on the same page. The atmosphere is well handled, and it was nice to see indy horror auteur Larry Fessenden in a small role... plus the bearded brother, Casper, is played by the lead in A Horrible Way To Die, where he's really good in, as a serial killer (that is a better film, actually, though not mind-blowing or anything). But the gore actually kinda felt at odds with the family drama on hand; and I was less involved in that aspect of the film than I would have liked. Maybe it would have helped the film if it hadn't had such a long a build up, with horror fans waiting for it to be released for a year or more, after the festival buzz started...? It was good, but not mind-blowing. Ah, well!

      A. MacInnis

      Aug 25, 2013 at 1:41am

      Actually, that reminds me - anyone wanting to see a GREAT (but gore-free) mumblecore homage to slasher flicks should check out the Duplass' brothers Baghead. THAT film I loved!

      A. MacInnis

      Aug 25, 2013 at 1:53am

      Oh, and the first guy to take an arrow to the head? That's Ti West (also contributed to V/H/S/, did a kinda interesting film called House of the Devil, disowned his Cabin Fever sequel after it got fiddled with... haven't seen his Trigger Man or The Roost yet but he's someone to watch). He's working on a new film, The Sacrament, with a bunch of these people, as well - Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen, Amy Seimetz... Quite in incestuous little club these folks have got going! -

      20 7Rating: +13

      A. MacInnis

      Aug 26, 2013 at 9:52am

      You know, it's kind of sad - no reflection on this review or the reviewer, but on the state of things in general - that people don't actually want to talk about the movies they see on the Straight website? Reviews seldom generate much discourse here. Where do the film geeks of Vancouver *go* to bullshit about movies online, anyhow? Whine.

      17 7Rating: +10