You’re Next

Rating: You really need to stick around to the crazed ending of this surprisingly entertaining Gothic horror fest.

You're NextStrangely, I find good horror movies to be comforting. I think that it comes from spending decades in State and Federal courts. We watch bad things happen to good people regularly, so the sight of a nice guy being hit by an arrow shot from a crossbow through his living room door does not seem that noticeably tragic.

Clearly, I suffer from a cinematic sickness, as that is exactly what happens to a Davidson family member as they gather for an uncomfortable reunion one evening at their parents’ new farm home in You’re Next. Strangers in lamb, tiger and fox masks are stalking this family group for an unknown reason, and the only thing that our victims can do is scream loudly as they get picked off one-by-one.

As mentioned above, the first to fall is a young male guest. Hit by an arrow that buries deep into his forehead, he collapses at the foot of the dining room table where everyone sits one evening in what seemed to be a developing argument. Thereafter, a sister panics, running out the front door, where her throat is slit with piano wire tied tightly to some porch posts.

Mom cries quietly in her room as the lamb masked guy stuffs a large blade into her head. Dad wants to help, but his throat is slit by another blade. Things aren’t going well for the Davidson family.

But for those of you who are already expressing your disgust, stop right there. The movie takes a surprisingly intriguing turn for two reasons. First, you discover what is motivating the animal masked boys, and it defines the film in an unexpected way. Secondly, and more importantly, our killers have bitten off more than they can chew in the person of Erin, a girlfriend of one of the Davidson brothers.

Sharni Vincent, a native of Australia, plays an Australian girl who isn’t about to give up the fight. While she becomes bloody and bruised, she proceeds to crush the head of one male attacker while sticking a screwdriver into the top of the head of a female opponent. There simply is no quit in this besieged  woman, and if she has to die, she isn’t going alone.

Oddly, as the bloody death toll mounts, the mood of the audience audibly changed as Erin rallies to the Davidson flag. As gruesome as some of these moments were, the audience ended up frequently laughing at the carnage Erin was leaving behind her. How can you not enjoy killers becoming emotionally distraught?

You’re Next became a “girl power” film with Erin playing the role that Arnold Schwarzenegger embraced in the hit sci-fi film Predator (1987). She’s the female composite of Bruce Willis in the Die Hard movies and Sylvester Stallone in his Rambo films.

Finally, Adam Wingard’s You’re Next joins The Purge and The Conjuring as some genuinely interesting 2013 horror films, all released within several months of one another. For completely different reasons, they all center on similar plots, with nearly all of the tragic action taking place in the victim’s home.

But what is notable is that these films have females who you are better advised to kill than just wound. You may have them limping and crawling, but God forbid if you get near one of them when they have a pointy object in their hand.