Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune and Filmspotting once joked of The Shining that it was the story of a white-bread American family who get everything they had coming to them. The same might be said of You’re Next, although the association with Stanley Kubrick ends there. Pointedly, the first character to expire in this slasher is an underground documentary filmmaker (Ti West in cameo) who eschews commercialism in favour of artistic integrity. He barely has time to list his filmography before he takes an arrow to the head. Message received – this movie was made for entertainment’s sake, and nothing more. Move along.
And the story, self-serving as it is, does just that. We’re barely given enough time to start hating these people before they meet their bloody and colourful ends.
It’s all contrived gory nonsense. The plot twists are uninspired, none of it makes much sense, and this B-grade comedy is never more than one step away from being so-bad-it’s-terrible. That it works is more than a little to do with Sharni Vinson, whose charmingly discordant character Erin is an absolute standout, in more ways than one. Not only is she the only competent or likeable person in the mix, she brings a broad Australian accent to a gathering of upper-class American Protestants. It’s a brash and charming performance, one that put me in mind of Zoë Bell’s outstanding contribution to Grindhouse. Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, AJ Bowen and Joe Swanberg also deserve a mention for their noteworthy contributions. They’re all appropriately invested in their performances to make the whole thing work, even if their characters have the survival instincts of a lemming.
You’re Next is a great new entry into the slasher genre, but the unlikelihood of all its elements mean it won’t be the crossover hit that Scream was. But if you can (a) see this film with a bunch of friends and (b) get a in a drink or two first, then you’re going to have an absolute blast with it.