31 Days of Hell: You're Next

Who's next? You're Next is next in the 31 Days of Hell. Confused?

"We can totally aim crossbows in
these masks....totally."
From the opening frame, we get a really nice pair of natural boobs, and that's two of the best things to happen in the film.

Saturated every moment by its own derivative plot from the opening scene, You're Next is painfully predictable, loaded with impracticalities and entirely unlikable characters, shot as if they never heard of storyboards, and gratingly boring.

It's difficult to understand why this film was ever made. Why put all of this effort into something that's been done to death and better dozens and dozens of times prior? It was equally difficult to understand the tone of the film. It practically insisted on telling the audience that dark terrible bad stuff is abound with its unrelenting evil music cues, but then tried to inject awkward moments of dark humor into the ham-fisted dialog. In fact, in retrospect, I'm not sure this film is supposed to be taken seriously. I've seen plenty of horror films that walk this tight rope with finesse such as Cabin Fever or Cabin in the Woods. So, either You're Next is a legitimately awful film or it's intentionally bad and fails to live up to better "bad" films in the past. This brings me back to the first sentence of this paragraph. Why was this film even made then?

"So....uh...great party. Charades?"
There isn't a single likable character. Everyone's persona is about as admirable as their wooden acting. Even the hero character, the only person meant to be marginally redeemable, possesses unremarkable survival skills that somehow baffle the remaining collection of morons who don't know how to stay away from windows. The only thing our hero accomplishes is being slightly less stupid than everyone else. When you're trying to go for any ounce of suspense, the audience can't prefer the victims to die. But maybe this was intentional? Maybe director Adam Wingard just wanted to show us a party of idiots dying for an hour and a half? Funny, right? I'd normally commend this sort of ridiculousness if orchestrated with ballsy panache, but You're Next is constantly at odds with being as boring as it is questionably bad.

After the tired introduction to our characters was done wearing its formula on its sleeve, the blood finally started to spill. Now, if this is supposed to be one big joke, you'd think that at least the kills would be creative, or maybe it wouldn't be shot by someone wearing a camera on their keychain? I mean, at least frame the action competently. Give me something here, man! All we get are arrows in the face, and a lot of stabbing. Just a lot of stabbing, really. Axes. Knives. Some other cooking utensils. There is one—only one creative kill toward the end and right after one of the film's only genuinely funny lines. Again, if this was supposed to be funny, then why isn't it more funny? There are maybe three—I think—comical lines in the entire running time, unless you count this sardine can full of idiots incessantly screaming at literally everything and each other as genuine comedy. Really? Just, please, shut up and die already.

And do they ever not shut up. The actor's mouths essentially become exposition holes that won't close. Everything is over-explained. Nothing is left up to the imagination regardless of it already being so predictable that no exposition is ever necessary. Screenwriter Simon Barrett just couldn't stop rubbing salt in the wound then Wingard poured ketchup all over it.

From the music video inspired
by the film......
This might have all been forgiven, again, if the kills were at the very least unique. I might have even bought its potentially deliberate stupidity had there been something fun offered in the gore department. Or more boobs. Anything! I'm really stretching here to think of something I enjoyed. It was... lit well. They have that. Good lighting, guys! Great work! The killers knew how to spell and are experts at writing in blood faster than people can scramble up the stairs to find a body. There was one shot that was good, too. Maybe there was another good shot. I can't remember.

It's not impossible to enjoy this film. If you look at it from the perspective that it's completely, consciously awful film making, then it would make for a great time with beers and friends. Even then, however, there is almost nothing done particularly well either save for a sad few bread crumbs of humor and a single death that was the most amusing part of the entire film. You're Next, if judged entirely as a B-movie, still remains a waste of time, offering next to nothing you have seen before in better "bad" movies. It neither stands up as a great home invasion film or a great tongue-in-cheek film. It sits somewhere in the middle, limp with no personality.

-J.G. Barnes