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Review: You're Next

Nice mask!
Nice mask!

The goal of any horror movie should be effectiveness. Now, that may sound silly: Isn’t effectiveness the goal of any movie, regardless of genre? But horror movies -- even more than comedies -- need to have an exact response at an exact time. If it fails to make you jump when you’re supposed to, it all falls apart. That’s what separates a good blood-soaked movie with almost no story from a bad one.

You’re Next is the latest in a series of films to take the tried-and-true conventions of slasher films and build wonderfully grisly stories around them. It’s also rather gleeful in its mayhem and bloodletting, which means this one isn’t good for amateur night. And while it builds slowly at first, creating quite a lot of tension before the havoc takes over, it does lose its novelty by the time it’s through.

Celebrating their parents’ 35th anniversary, the Davison family all gets together at a manor in the middle of nowhere. The old house is supposed to be Dad’s retirement project, but it’s still in a bit of disarray. Crispian (A.J. Bowen) brings along Erin (Sharni Vinson), his former student and current girlfriend. His two brothers, one sister, and all their significant others have packed the house for the special occasion.

And then one of the guests is shot through the skull by a crossbow. And another gets a nonfatal wound in the back. There’s some razor wire shortly thereafter. Family get-togethers really are the worst.

Director Adam Wingard has sharpened his filmmaking blade in horror flicks for about a decade, so by now he has a pretty good handle on how to burn through the kill scenes and drag us against our will through a house of horrors. You’re Next does run out of tension and surprises a little early, but if you like your horror movies fun and bloody, buy a ticket.

YOU'RE NEXT  Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, AJ Bown, directed by Adam Wingard, rated R, 95 mins