Director: Adam Wingard
Year of release: 2011/2013
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 95 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Both
Tagline: "Don't bother locking the doors... Animals don't use doors", Hunt sweet hunt" and "His pack versus yours".
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: To celebrate a 35th wedding anniversary the Davidson family get together at their sprawling and isolated seasonal mansion home for a family reunion. Among those attending is second son Crispin who is bringing his Australian girlfriend Erin along with him who will be meeting his family for the first time. Though Erin seems to make a good impression with the relatives old rivalries soon come to the boil as Crispin starts arguing with his older brother Drake as the family sit down to eat dinner. These petty squabbles are soon rendered obsolete when one of the guests after noticing something through the window is shot dead by crossbow bolt. Total panic breaks loose as the family find themselves under attack from three masked assailants, one of whom has already found him way inside the house. As everyone around her falls to pieces Erin takes it upon herself to fight back and give the intruders a taste of their own medicine.
Good points: Without wanting to give too much away I'd say that the main positive of the film is the gimmick I allude to at the end of the story description in regards to how Erin refuses to be a victim and instead carries the fight to the antagonists. As far as I'm aware this isn't something we've seen carried off to this scale before so it puts a fresh spin on things and makes this instantly stand out. Though extremely pleasant and chatty at the start once the chips are down and their backs against the wall Erin transforms into an ass kicking no nonsense type in the mold of an Ellen Ripley or Sarah Connor who is a lot of fun to see in action. I know a complaint many people have with slasher films is that the good guys never finish off the killer if they temporarily disable him/her so this film is the exact opposite so could be something that strongly appeals to many and gives them reason to cheer.
The story itself which is built around the idea of the Erin heroine is a rather good one which expertly delivers a couple of twists and turns. It is a satisfying plot mainly played straight but also layered with the odd moment of black comedy such as a few scenes involving the youngest son Felix.
The masks the assailants wear look really cool. I like animal masks and would be up for seeing more of them in slasher films. The tiger, lamb and wolf masks seen here reminded me a bit of The Wicker Man as although that film featured different animals the masks carried the same kind of creepy vibe for me.
The deaths are fairly varied and there is more than a decent amount of blood to accompany them. While it isn't massively gory it delivers enough to satisfy. The death that befalls the nominated runner near the star and several of those towards the very end in particular stand out as being memorable.
Bad Points: There are a couple of questionable bits most notably when one of the masked men is trying to break in through a window and seems to look down and notice a nail in a board trap beneath but then stands on it anyway and seems surprised to do so. It is also a little unrealistic that one of the characters would be allowed to run out of the house to find help as no matter how fast they were they would be a target for the crossbow which was known to be a weapon the attackers were in possession of. Similarly it was marginally unrealistic that the mother would be allowed to lie down on her own upstairs once it all started kicking off plus Drakes wife who was also left alone in the same upstairs room shortly after. In the immediate aftermath of the dinner scene there is also a lot of screaming and shouting which can be a little grating and annoying.
As much as the Erin character and her taking the fight to the killers is a positive thing there is a bit of an unrealistic side to it as well as I felt she fought back perhaps a little too much and seemed overly blood thirsty in particular with her actions at the very end. I know they added on the whole survival camp thing to try and justify it but it isn't like she would have killed anyone at the camp so she seemed to transition into doing that a bit too easily for me which was slightly hard to swallow on occasion. Her survival instincts kicked in I suppose and it was a kill or be killed situation but she just seemed a bit too cold and clinical in her actions sometimes to be 100% believable.
As the killers take their masks off on several occasions and with the run around they are given by Erin as things progress they through their ineffectiveness don't come across as the most intimidating of villains. Due to how good Erin is at getting the better of them You're Next isn't very scary at all though I did feel that this problem was nullified and somewhat counterbalanced by the constant entertainment provided from start to finish.
Verdict: This is a very watchable and thoroughly entertaining mixture of slasher and home invasion film which feels fresh and different due to the Erin character and her actions towards the intruders. Though they perhaps did take these actions too far to the point of it being mildly unrealistic it certainly makes for a thrilling entertaining ride. Normally with these review I find the bad points section a lot easier to write than the good points but with this one it was very much the opposite and I was really struggling to come up with anything negative. You could say that this in itself is all the praise the film needs.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1) Student girlfriend of neighbor: Found dead, killed off camera.
2) Neighbor: Struck with machete. Body later posed in sitting position on the sofa.
3) Tariq: Shot in the head with a crossbow.
4) Daughter: Cuts her throat open by running into a rigged wire.
5) Mother: Hacked with machete.
6) Killer #1: Struck in the head multiple times with a kitchen hammer.
7) Father: Throat cut with machete.
8) Drake's wife: Hit in the side of the head with an axe.
9) Drake: Stabbed in the chest multiple times with screwdrivers by Felix.
10) Killer #2: Stabbed in the head. It is hard to see what is used.
11) Killer #3: Attacked from behind and bludgeoned with something. Again it was hard to tell with what but maybe a piece of wood.
12) Felix: Killed with a blender being turned on over the top of his head.
13) Zee: Stabbed in the top of the head with a knife.
14) Crispin: Stabbed in the neck and eye with a knife.
15) Policeman: Struck with booby trapped axe as the film cuts to ending credits.