There’s just something about killers wearing masks that scares me. Not all the movies featuring masked killers are effective at providing some genuine thrills, but, if done right, then the effect can be terrifying. You’re Next tells a simple story about a family anniversary/getaway where the family members are killed off on by one by mysterious killers disguised in strange pig-faced masks (among other things.) At first we’re not sure who is killing them and more importantly, why. As I watched this film I was reminded of another home invasion horror film, 2008’s The Strangers. That film also featured masked killers harassing a couple on what was meant to be their honeymoon. I enjoyed Strangers quite a bit as it provided a simple premise and delivered the scares. Also, in that film, the killers faces were never revealed. You’re Next is simple, but it also has a strong sense of humor to the whole thing. It’s never to the point of satire such as the Scream films, but it takes a more subtle approach. A lot of the humor comes from the situation itself. One character is shot in the shoulder with an arrow and the film gets some good mileage with subtle humor. At one point he’s even ridiculed about being out of shape despite having an arrow sticking out of his shoulder. Another amusing moment comes after a character smashes one of the killer’s heads in. She asks “Does anyone know who this is?” to which another character replies “I don’t know, it’s kind of hard to tell.” It’s moments such as this that elevate the film above others in its class.
The film opens with a scene of a couple getting murdered. The words “You’re Next” are written in blood. This murder happens next door to where the family gathering is to take place. The parents are played by Rob Moran and Barbara Crampton. The other characters are either the children and/or their respective girlfriends. I could list the individual characters, but let’s just say this; the body count is high. The film knows exactly what its audience wants and delivers on that promise. I wish more horror films would take this route. You won’t find any “inspired by true events” on the cover or “based on a true story” here. The filmmakers don’t try to reel us in using that approach, instead, we’re treated to a fun and (at times) frightening film that never pretends to be more than that. I won’t say the film is for the faint of heart either. It’s overly gruesome at times. In a blender is used on a character to scramble his brains. It’s gross, but admittedly, clever at the same time. Sharni Vinson is great as Erin. Her survival skills help her defend herself and she creates various traps to try and stop the killers. Once the big twist is revealed, thankfully the film doesn’t try to overdo things. A lot of horror films become so focused on big “Gotcha” moments that they lose sight of the fun element and a fitting conclusion. That isn’t the case here. The twist is actually fairly creative makes sense in the grand scheme of things. This is one of the better horror films in recent memory and is well worth your time. I’ll take this over the Paranormal Activity films any day of the week. Check it out.
Video: How’s it look?
The AVC encoded image (2.35:1) is nicely detailed though a bit to dark at times. I find it hard to fault the transfer for this as this was likely intentional and reflective on how the film was shot. The print used is clean and free of grain or other troublesome issues. When the blood begins to pour, the transfer shows its true colors so to speak. There’s rich detail in a number of the murder scenes. Overall, this transfer should satisfy. It can be a tad soft at times, but never too distracting. There are also a number of night scenes that can sometimes be hard to see everything that’s happening. Again, this is not a fault of the transfer as it’s just how the film was shot.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The DTS HD track is solid. Clearly, the killings are when it should kick in and indeed it does. There are various thuds and screams all coming through with strong clarity. The dialogue is clear, but I suggest keeping the volume at a higher level to get the most out of it, otherwise you will constantly be switching it up and down. There’s some odd music that plays towards the end of the film and it gets some good mileage out of the rear channels here. This track accompanies the film well and creates an involving experience, perfect for a film like this.
Supplements: What are the extras?
While not packed with features, we do get two commentary tracks and a brief, but informative featurette. The package also includes a DVD copy and a digital copy code.
Audio Commentary – One with the director and writer and the other with them as well as actors Sharni Vinson and Barbara Crampton. I think either is as good as the other. Some fans might even want to give both tracks a listen at some point.
“No Ordinary Home Invasion: The making of You’re Next” – This feature clocks in at just under 12 minutes and despite its brevity, provides a lot of good information. It even gives a look at some storyboards. We hear specifics about the tone of the film and even the ending. It’s worth watching, but definitely AFTER you’ve seen the film as it provides some spoilers.