2014 August 27 • Wednesday
A while back I wrote about how I was pleasantly surprised by The Collector, a recent horror movie that was more or less of the "torture porn" genre but with more wit, a better story and characters with plausible motivations. I've just been pleasantly surprised by another recent American horror movie, You're Next.
Apparently it was finished in 2011 but only released in 2013. (There's probably a story there.) I remember seeing previews for it last summer. In the preview, Lou Reed's song "Perfect Day" is featured as something playing on CD in the movie. I've always liked that song but it's not actually in the movie. The movie instead uses "Looking for the Magic" by the Dwight Twilley Band.
The photography is very nice, smooth with subdued lighting and muted color tones, similar to Gordon Willis's interior shots in the Godfather movies. More relevant, I suppose, is that it shares this look with the 2008 movie The Strangers.
You're Next looked like basically a rip-off of The Strangers, which itself was very, very, very similar to a superior French movie from 2006 called Ils (Them). Sure enough, it starts out that way and doesn't seem to have anything interesting to offer other than a slightly different gathering of murder victims in an isolated house. The occasion is a family reunion, as sons and daughter come to visit their parents with signifcant others and long-standing resentments in tow.
Barbara Crampton is the mother and while it's great to see her again, the movie really belongs to Australian actress Sharni Vinson. See, when this family gathering comes under attack from murderous psychos wearing creepy animal masks, she seems to be the only one who knows what to do. And this is what makes You're Next so much fun, that it combines the slasher story with the "you messed with the wrong person this time" story.
This unexpected bonus is enhanced by an additional twist, a less surprising but still satisfying one, that comes later. Give the people who made this film credit for working harder to make a better horror movie.