Don’t Be The Next In Line For This One

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LOGO “AAAHHHHHEEEEEEEOOOHHHAANEEEEEEEEAHHHEEEENNNOOOOENNOOOAAAAADDEEEEBNNOOOSTAYDOWNAAADEEEEENFNGGGGGETDOWNAAGGGEEEEEENOONOOWE’REALLGONNADIENOHELPHELPEEEKKEEEAAAHHHHAGAGAEEWAEEWSWA.”

In case you may be wondering, the above is some of the stellar dialogue in “You’re Next,” the most recent blood-soaked screamfest to hit the big screen, and once again the filmmakers have erroneously attempted to create a frightening film by spilling copious amounts of fake blood. Boring!!!!!

The film opens with one of the strangest sex scenes I’ve ever seen, and then the two people involved are sufficiently butchered by someone wearing a lamb mask. Yes, you read that correctly.

After this weird beginning, we meet Paul (Rob Moran) and Aubrey (Barbara Crampton) Harson, who are on their way to their isolated vacation house in Missouri, where they plan to celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary with their three sons, Crispian (A.J. Bowen, Felix (Nicholas Tucci), and Drake (Joe Swanberg), and their daughter, Aimee (Amy Seimetz). Now it just so happens that Harson’s house is next door to the one in which the two lovers have just been slaughtered.

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When they arrive at the house, Paul is puzzled because the front door is unlocked, but then he concludes that a workman must have neglected to lock up after leaving. But Aubrey thinks she hears someone upstairs, and so Paul sends her outside while he checks things out. In the meantime Crispian arrives on the scene with his girlfriend, Erin (Sharni Vinson). Paul’s search proves fruitless, and everyone goes inside.

The next day all of the other Harsons arrive with their significant others in tow, and it becomes immediately apparent that there is a lot of tension between Crispian and Felix; then things become really ugly between them at dinner that evening. Felix makes a derogatory remark about Crispian’s relationship with Erin, and suddenly everyone at table is yelling at everyone else. It’s at this point when three men wearing lamb, fox, and tiger masks launch an attack on the Harson house and begin killing people at random with crossbows. Now an allout war ensues between the guys in the animal masks and the Harson family.

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People who love gore in movies should relish this one, which features, in addition to the crossbows, such imaginative weapons as axes, a meat tenderizer, and a blender. From the time the nuts wearing the masks kill their first victim, this film is nothing more than one horrendous murder after another.

I really found nothing to like about this film. It is supposed to be a horror movie, but it offers no surprises and fails miserably at creating any effective suspense. The only mystery is who is going to die next, and there’s really no point in commenting on the acting because most of the performers don’t live long enough to make much of an impression. The lone exception to this is Vinson, who creates the only character worthy of any attention. In fact, in the film’s production notes, director Adam Wingard (“Home Sick”) commented on Erin.

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“It seems like most female heroines in horror films are either girls who get lucky and get away, over and over again or girls who get victimized for the entire film. We wanted to take a different approach with Erin and have a character who was able to take matters into her own hands and didn’t have to rely on guys to take charge of her life.”

Also in the production notes, Vinson explained that she grew up loving the horror genre.

“Growing up I would have slumber parties with my girlfriends and, from a very early age, we would go and get all the Freddie Krueger ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ movies, ‘Scream,’ ‘Pet Sematary,’ ‘Chucky,’ and ‘Jaws.’”

I suppose if there is anything positive to be said about this film, it’s  that the weapons used in the unrelenting butchery are unique to say the least. The crossbows were unusual enough, but then when you throw in a meat tenderizer and a blender, you have to give the filmmakers credit for a certain amount of originality. In the production notes, Wingard commented on the crossbows.

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“I remember reading the script and thinking it was kind of surprising that they were using crossbows. A guy getting shot in the head with an arrow is horrifying and violent. But at the end of the day, there’s something surreal about that image. And that was a good starting point for us in terms of the violence. We wanted it to be hard and realistic, but at the same time, we wanted the audience to be able to cheer along with the film.”

“You’re Next” probably will find an audience among the blood mongers out there, but overall the film is nothing more than a shallow exercise in excessive violence and gore, even though it does offer several twists along the way. Thus it earns an unimpressive final score of four, and the only thing I came away thinking is that I never again will look at a meat tenderizer in quite the same way.

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