Despite the buzz that I’d heard about Wingard’s You’re Next from many horror lovers, I never did get around to it while it was playing in theaters last year. My good ol’ buddy Netflix brought it back under my radar this month, and I do think that having viewed it separate from the hype that it received upon its release really helped my perspective. I was able to see it with a fresh mind and a more honest, unbiased opinion. With that being said, I really enjoyed You’re Next quite a bit. Does it do anything distinctly fresh with its tried-and-tested slasher movie formula? No, not particularly. However, where the film does benefit is from its solid pacing, charming wit, and captivating characters – particularly its protagonist.
As I’ve stated before, while horror doesn’t necessarily rely on bringing something new to the table, recycling of tired tropes can often make for an equally dismal film. I think this is especially imperative for slasher films; long gone are the days of Psycho, when shadowy figures and a piercing score is enough to frighten an audience. While it’s true that You’re Next is pretty easy to predict, it’s far from a slog to get through. I, for one, was certainly not expecting the movie itself to be so funny. I can definitely see how this has been often (jokingly?) hailed as the Home Alone of horror movies, as many of the characters’ kills are downright twisted, often dwelling in absurdity. It’s a dark sense of humor, sure; but in the end, it all works very well.
The slasher villains of this story aren’t particularly interesting (mysterious folks in masks have been done a thousand times over in very similar ways) and the film sometimes hinders from its own faults – but in many ways, this doesn’t matter. In many ways, this film is propelled by Sharni Vinson and her alone, as it is rather impossible to take one’s eyes away from such a likable protagonist. Sure, she is depicting yet another completely played-out trope in slasher, that of the final girl. Yet instead of screaming and frantically running away from danger – as is typical of films of this type – Vinson’s character fights back. In ways, this makes her more similar to Heather Langenkamp of Nightmare on Elm Street fame. As such, her presence alone seems to make this entire film worthwhile, in case one isn’t completely sold over by the story and usual abundance of bloody deaths.
So, what else does You’re Next bring to the table besides a slick kills, a badass lady lead, and an entertaining though rather connect-the-dots slasher narrative? Well, nothing really.But when it all comes down to it, shouldn’t this be just enough to fuel the minds and souls of fellow horror hounds? It isn’t particularly distinct in many ways and certainly isn’t genre-defying. Yet there’s absolutely no denying that everything about this movie is solid, fun, and just plain awesome. While it isn’t fresh in its content, the approach it takes with its material gives it just enough personality for it to rise far above the below-average takes on the genre. Also, any film with a terrific, strong female lead should be given all the praise in the world – at least, that’s how I see it.