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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
I’ve been on an unusual horror kick lately. I don’t say unusual because I’m watching particularly strange horror movies. I say it instead because it is totally out of the ordinary for me to watch horror movies at all. I very rarely watch anything in the genre unless it’s either a true classic (like, say, The Exorcist or Evil Dead 2) or unless I consider it to be a classic (Hellraiser, Candyman) even if it probably isn’t. But, it being October and all, I decided that maybe I should catch a few horror films and try to get into the spirit of it all.
One such horror film I caught courtesy of Amazon’s instant watch service, You’re Next, is a home-invasion thriller filmed on a microscopic budget and actually completed in 2011, where it was screened at several film festivals. You’re Next was released in the midst of a kind of horror renaissance last year, where several horror films (including The Conjuring and Insidious 2) made big bucks. Though You’re Next left little impact at the domestic box office, it was greeted with fairly strong reviews for the genre (74% aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes), which was enough to intrigue me.
I went into the film expecting something on the level of Saw or Hostel, that is to say I expected it to be much more torture-porny than it turned out to be. I was pleasantly surprised to see that You’re Next was not a gross torture porn flick, but instead a home-invasion thriller similar to The Purge or The Strangers. Though these films are highly illogical (I can’t imagine all these conversations, secrets, and murders going on in one house without people catching on more quickly), they are usually entertaining and fun to watch. Such was the case with You’re Next – it’s a whole lot of fun to watch unfold.
Make no mistake, You’re Next is a totally dumb film. The plot is barebones and stupid and characters make decisions no rational, real life person would ever make. But there are also moments of sheer genius in the film’s utter stupidity that made me crack a smile. Too often horror films contain absolutely horrible characters with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. When these characters are eventually dispatched, we the audience feel nothing for them. You’re Next doesn’t fall into this trope because it barely gives us the chance to get to know its characters, let alone hate them. Believe me – this is a good thing.
Because the characters are so paper thin, there’s no real reason to discuss anyone in depth. Thankfully so, because the most backstory anyone gets is either given out in terrible dialogue or in lengthy doses of useless exposition. You’re Next is all about the nitty gritty of the killing and not the depth of the characters, which is totally fine for a movie of this variety. There’s some real atmosphere to be found in the film, which is more than what could be said of the first Purge film (though You’re Next is nowhere near as good as The Purge: Anarchy, it should be noted).
You’re Next isn’t a good film by any means, but it foregoes most of the unwatchable trappings of the horror genre. It is a violent and bloody affair but never really devolves into the insidious torture porn genre. It has some pretty cool kills and features the best use of kitchen appliances in a horror movie since the 2009 Last House of the Left remake. I wouldn’t recommend anyone go out and spend their hard earned money to see this movie, but it is absolutely worth checking out on a streaming service. It certainly helped me get into the Halloween spirit, and I’ll most likely be checking out a few other horror films as the season progresses.