Core home-invasion horror movie fact No. 39: You're next. But this flick's got a twist up its bloody sleeve—not that anyone lives long enough to applaud the cleverness.
Paul and Aubrey have been married for 35 years. It's time to celebrate! And, hey, that celebration is also a pretty decent excuse to pull the whole family back together again. It's been a while since all the kids were under one roof. It'll be good to see. At least for Paul and Aubrey.
For the "kids―who are all twenty- and thirtysomethings with their own live-ins and spouses―it'll be a little less … good. Because, in truth, they're a pretty dysfunctional lot.
There's Crispian, a chubby college teacher who's dating one of his younger students. There's Drake, a smug jerk of a brother who's married to a like-minded wife. There's blonde and bubbly Aimee, hapless as ever and arriving with a pretentious filmmaker boyfriend in tow. And there's Felix, known for messing everything up every time, who's paired off with a dark and edgy girl named Zee.
It only takes minutes before the siblings are squabbling once again, with significant others wincing, and Mom and Dad thrust back into the role of U.N. peacekeepers. Were they really thinking this'd be heavenly? The family get-together weekend is starting to look like it will in fact be … hellish.
And they don't even yet know about the neighbors who've been murdered right up the road, or that their killers are about to show a family full of dysfunctional siblings what it really looks like to be torn apart.
Once the brutal attack begins, there are a few characters who want to help those around them. And one person, Crispian's youthful girlfriend, Erin, takes some meaningful steps toward saving the family. Indeed, she's one of those rare horror movie protagonists (and certainly the only one in this film) who actually keeps her wits about her and uses all the skills she's learned in life to save others in danger. (Unfortunately, her efforts don't ultimately draw down the final body count—they just add another killer to the morbid mix.)
Before dinner Dad bows his head and prays over the meal; most of the young adults at the table roll their eyes.
The movie opens with a naked couple having sex in bed, the camera catching quite a lot of skin and a bared breast in the midst of the groaning, panting movements. Afterwards, the woman dons panties and an open shirt that doesn't keep much covered as she walks around.
Zee begins to initiate sex with Felix as they lie next to a dead family member―the girl indicating that the body nearby is a turn-on. (Felix pushes her away.) Drake walks up behind his wife, who's standing in her underwear in front of a mirror, and seductively removes her bra. (She pushes him away.) We see Crispian and Erin in bed, both wearing T-shirts and shorts.
The trio of attackers like using crossbows and knives to do their bloody, dirty deeds. They wear creepy animal masks. And the majority of the film centers around their multiple acts of vicious and grisly violence—designed and displayed as a source of entertainment for soul-deadened moviegoers. Whether being wielded in an attack or for defense, the blades, mallets, axes and arrows paint a nasty fresco as blood and gore spatters and splashes.
A man bleeds out after staggering around with a crossbow arrow in his forehead. Another is hit in the back with an arrow; he tears it out of his body. Still another has his jugular slashed from behind; he stumbles around as the wound spurts. And still another has his knee smashed with a meat mallet; when he falls, his attacker pulps his brains with that same weapon.
A woman runs full tilt into a suspended wire that slices open her throat. Another has a machete jammed into her eye. And still another is punched through a glass door; she crawls through broken glass and then is killed with an ax slammed brutally into her temple.
Others are punctured with nails, beaten, slashed, stabbed and shot. We see a large shard of glass extracted from a thigh and flesh being impaled by screwdrivers.
Crude or Profane Language
About 30 f-words and five or so s-words accompany abuses of God's name.
Drug and Alcohol Content
The family members all drink wine at dinner. Crispian reports that he brought whiskey to the celebration. Drake has a bottle of beer. A woman mixes herself a drink and walks around sipping it. Zee smokes.
It's mentioned that Aubrey is on "medication," and we see her pop a pill before bed. Later, a handful of those pills are given to a wounded Drake to reduce his pain; they put him in a foggy, drugged out state. Drake's wife asks him to find her a Vicodin.
Other Negative Elements
A bottle full of urine has been left in a closet. Family members plot against one another.
You're Next is a relatively low-budget slasher pic that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival two years before it made it onto American theater screens. In the meantime, it garnered a few accolades from bloody-horror fans and critics … and then all but died the death of obscurity.
I wish it had stayed dead.
But it was revived due to something of a genre-blending kink in its brain-pulping and artery-slitting home-invasion horror genes. (Think of it as Scream meets Die Hard.) And it was enough to make somebody somewhere think somebody else might like to see it sometime.
The fact is, though, that in today's world of über-gruesome, realistically gushing Hollywood nastiness, you can expect all films of this type to eventually push their characters into some form of bloody ground chuck by movie's end. The camera will closely examine hacked-open wounds. The dying will writhe and scream.
No clever twists and turns will change that core genre fact. So in the end it's simply a question of who's been grotesquely impaled and bleeding out on the floor, who's doing the grotesque impaling … and who's finding any of those grotesqueries entertaining.