Monday, August 18, 2014

You're Next (2011)

On the topic of growing pains (we weren’t talking about growing pains, I know. This is how you write an opening sentence; writing majors can feel free to take notes), I was talking to my friend Rob about my frustration with what I want to do with this blog. I’m not reviewing, or recapping, or even rating horror movies, so what am I doing? I feel like I’m basically just saying HEY CHECK IT OUT THIS HAPPENED AND I DREW IT IN A RUDIMENTARY MANNER USING FREE SOFTWARE THAT CAME WITH YOUR PC OKAY BYE! and that’s not really all that fulfilling for me, and I can’t imagine that it is that exciting to look at either. Rob said to me, “the thing with horror movies is discerning the good ones from the straight-to-DVD-or-Netflix shit ones” which I thought was a really great point. The world, particularly the Netflix world, is just teeming with terrible horror movies and I feel like I could be a valuable resource to you in sussing them out. That means, however, that this blog is just going to have to have spoilers from time to time, and you can just

(my GOD am I good at the internet!)

The other night, I had the pleasure of watching You’re Next with my excellent lady friends Tara and Kelly (and excellent lady friend dog, Penny). You’re Next is a slasher that falls a bit in the vein of The Strangers but with more deaths and more comedy that takes place in a family’s isolated mountain home. Tara had previously described the plot to me while we were staying at her family’s isolated mountain home—I  will never return there, thank you—and said that she basically had her fingers over her eyes for a large portion of the film. And for good reason! This movie has a number of really good jump scares that get you even though you know goddamn well they are going to get you, and they come as soon as the opening scene. They definitely got Kelly, anyway.

The setup is simple: really wealthy parents buy a vacation home and invite their three sons, one daughter and each of the kids’ significant others to spend a weekend there for the parents’ 35th wedding anniversary. This is ideal because with ten characters at its disposal, a movie can really get the body count up there quickly. The children have stereotypically bougie names (one of the—intentionally? I can’t be sure—funniest moments in the movie is at the very beginning, when our protagonist son accidentally frightens his father and the father exclaims, “Crispin!!” to reveal his name for the first time. CRISPIN. Actually, I just Googled it and it looks like his name is actually Crispian. I can’t abide by that weird extra A, so it’s gotta go. “Crispin!”) They are all dressed appropriately as “wealthy people”; I imagine that the working title of this film was Rich People Wear a lot of Collars.

One by one, we meet each of the couples and prepare to watch them die. I feel basically nothing towards them at this point so, you know, let the bloodshed begin. One death comes via crossbow, which I feel is a totally underutilized weapon in horror films. (At one point, a character refers to crossbow ammunition as an arrow and Tara audibly scoffed and said, "it's a BOLT." Ladies who play D&D...we know what we're talking about.)

 You are supposed to feel some kinship towards Crispin’s girlfriend Erin, but she’s a tall, thin, beautiful Australian woman so, no, we don't have a ton in common. Anyway, the killers roll up to the house dressed in animal masks, which I absolutely LOVE. This really got me in The Strangers, too—killers wearing blank-faced masks instantly increase the creepiness.

You see, that’s a lamb. I feel real, actual shame at the amount of time I spent on that compared to how it looks…maybe I should stick with drawing Glenn.

Incidentally, that same mask is totally worn by WWE wrestler Erick Rowan of the Wyatt Family, whom I saw live at the Royal Rumble in Pittsburgh this year. Pro wrestling, D&D, horror...with interests as cool and fascinating and feminine as mine, it’s a wonder the boys aren’t kicking down my door. Guys back off, I’m married, okay?

You’re Next is gross and jumpy and engaging, but on top of all that, it’s actually really funny. It has to be, since the characters are wildly unsympathetic and the premise itself is fairly unoriginal. I sometimes have a problem with the horror-comedy genre because I like to know whether something is supposed to be funny or if I’m actually just laughing at a filmmaker’s expense, and You’re Next kind of toes that line. The tall thin beautiful Australian woman, as it turns out, is an extremely capable killer and manages to fight back against the home invaders, beating one to death and concocting traps to maim others in a grotesque Home Alone-style scenario. When asked how she’s able to do all this, she tosses off a line about being raised on a survivalist compound in Australia and you’re supposed to be like, “oh yeah totally, it’s Australia…anything is possible…?” Things like that are so blatantly dumb that I have to assume that is intentional, right?

Anyway, to address the Netflix “good or garbage?” question, this one definitely falls under good. It’s fairly scary, fairly gory, fairly funny and all-around fun. Would watch again. 

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