A gleeful throwback to the slasher films of yore (which is to say, “the early ’80s”), “You’re Next” is the second movie this year (after “The Purge”) in which a group of privileged rich people are trapped inside a mansion while another group of unidentified maniacs in rubber masks try to get at them from outside. But “You’re Next” is easily the champion of the two, carving a name for itself (for lack of a better phrase) with a witty cast, unexpected twists and a premise that is less one-dimensional than you’d expect.
Basically, the set-up is this: a family assembles in a remote vacation home where there is no cell reception (of course) nor are there any street lights. An argument breaks out during dinner, but before “You’re Next” can declare a victor, arrows begin flying through the windows and people start to drop dead. The ensuing 75 minutes finds similarly creative ways to dispatch of the remaining unfortunate fortunates.
The violence in “You’re Next” will be off-putting to a lot of people (parts of it play like a bloody “Home Alone”), but there’s something to be said about a horror movie where there are no clear good guys. Perhaps the closest thing we have to a hero (or heroine) is Sharni Vinson (“Step Up 3D”) as an outsider (like us) who is meeting the family for the very first time. Alas, unlike us, Vinson’s character gradually begins to appear prepared for the grisly mayhem, making us (and the rest of the characters) wonder, “Just who is this chick, anyway?”
There have been more violent movies than “You’re Next” in recent years (“Evil Dead,” “Django Unchained,” to name a few), but this is the first one where the violence has seemed unavoidable. The movie’s premise is nothing new, either (echoes of “The Strangers” also flow through the film), and yet director Adam Wingard — who had previously directed segments in both “V/H/S” movies as well as “The ABCs of Death” — does incredibly inventive things with it. “You’re Next” may not be the Second Coming horror movie the hype may lead you to believe, but for fans of old school slashers like “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th,” it’s bloody good fun.
★★★ out of ★★★★
Rated R. 96 minutes. 2013.
Director: Adam Wingard. Starring: Sharni Vinson, AJ Bowen.
Read all of Jesse Hoheisel’s reviews at AFistfulofPopcorn.com.