Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: You're Next
January 11th, 2014
You're Next opened in late August, which is a dumping ground for bad movies. This film was actually earning some strong pre-release buzz. Unfortunately, it wasn't able to turn that buzz into box office success. (To be fair, it reportedly only cost $1 million to make, so it made enough to cover that opening day. It will still need to pay off its P&A budget, on the other hand.) Is the film as good as its pre-release buzz? Or is it as bad as its release date suggests?
The film begins with a short prologue. There are a couple of murders here, but it is not just to get the body count higher. (It's partially to do that. After all, if this wasn't here, there would have been no deaths till after all of the characters were introduced more than 20 minutes into the movie.) But it also set up the premise that there's been a murder in the area and there's foreshadowing that the murderers might be in the house.
After that, we begin to be introduced to the characters in the movie, mostly the Davison family. There are the parents, Paul and Aubrey, plus their four adult children. They are going to their vacation home in rural Missouri to celebrate their 35th anniversary with their children. The first to arrive is Crispian, who is coming with his girlfriend, Erin, although they decide to pick up some alcohol before they get there. It could be a rough dinner. The next day, by the time Crispian is awake, his brother Drake and his wife Kelly are there. Clearly Crispian isnt' happy to see Drake, as they have a sibling rivalry of sorts. Late that night, the other two Davison children show up. Aimee shows up with her boyfriend, Tariq. The final child is Felix and his girlfriend, Zee. Aimee seems to be the only one truly excited to be there.
The dinner is contentious, to undersell it, but suddenly... spoilers happen.
You're Next is a home invasion movie, which is a relatively popular sub-genre of horror films. It is also combined with a dysfunctional family drama and a genre that I don't want to talk about in order to avoid spoilers. (It isn't a real spoiler to say one of the potential victims is not what they seem to be.) There are a lot of aspects to this film that make it worth recommending. This includes the strong setup that generates a lot of tension. In between the prologue and when the action begins, there's about 22 minutes, or the length of a TV sitcom. A lot of films of this type really struggle with this part of the plot. Either the action starts too soon and we don't get to learn about the characters, so we don't care about them. Even if we do learn about the characters, they can be uninteresting and we don't care about them. The lull in the action can also kill the pacing of the movie. Fortunately with You're Next, we get enough little hints of what's to come and there are small moments of tension that keep the film going. Also, while the characters are mostly unlikable, this isn't a deal-breaker, because it works within the dysfunctional family dynamic. Furthermore, the acting is strong enough that even if some of the characters are odious, it is not a big deal.
As for the action... fans of the genre will certainly be engaged. There's enough gore here that it earned its R-rating so all but the most extreme gorehounds will be satisfied. However, it's not just gore, but the kills are often done in in a very stylish or entertaining way. That last part is important, as far too many home invasion movies are sadistic in a way I just don't find engaging. That aspect of the genre is missing here and replaced with some much needed humor. A little humor can make a horror film so much better, as it helps emphasize the scares.
There are some downsides to the film. It isn't exactly the most original movie you will see. This includes many of the kills, which, while well done, don't break new ground. (There are exceptions, but that's spoiler territory.) Because the kills are more realistic, it can be repetitive at times. (The invaders are armed with machetes, not exotic weapons.) Additionally, there's enough gore that it might turn off some viewers. Then again, these viewers were probably not going to watch a horror movie called You're Next anyway.
There are only three extras on the DVD or Blu-ray, but none of them are fluffy. The first extra is an audio commentary track with the director, Adam Wingard, and the writer, Simon Barrett. The two are also on the second audio commentary track, this time joined with Sharni Vinson and Barbara Crampton. There is also a 12-minute long making of featurette.
You're Next reportedly cost just $1 million to make and a lot of it takes place in dark rooms, so you shouldn't expect a visual feast. That said, with those caveats in mind, the film looks amazing. The level of detail is really high and the shadows are inky black. The film isn't a very colorful movie, but the colors were well executed. The audio is just as strong as the video, perhaps a little stronger. The dialogue is always clear and there is plenty of activity in the surround sound speakers.
The Blu-ray costs $4 or 31% more than the DVD. That's a fine deal for this type of release.
You're Next is one of the better horror films from last year, and there were a number of great horror films that came out last yer. The DVD and the Blu-ray Combo Pack isn't loaded with extras, but there are enough that it is worth picking up over just renting.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Filed under: Video Review, You're Next