'You're Next' review: A refreshing, witty slasher/horror-genre game changer
The marketing and trailers don't do this horror flick justice. Every ad makes 'You're Next' look like just another slasher - but this entertaining thriller is an exciting new entry into a very tired genre.
In short: A well-to-do family's reunion at a secluded home is turned into a bloodbath when a mysterious group of masked murderers descend upon the unsuspecting family. (watch the trailer)
Arguably more so than other film genres, horror flicks tend to feel uninspired or indistinguishable from its peers. The genius of 'You're Next' is taking a very familiar slasher structure - 'large cast of innocents are whittled down/murdered' - and spinning a tired formula with a refreshing new angle infused with sharp, self-aware humor.
First - and perhaps most importantly - 'Next' is a completely satisfying slasher-thriller flick. These mask-wearing maniacs do not toy with their victims - they mean to kill efficiently and systematically. They seem to pop out from every nook inside and around the house as they pick off family members. And on a purely visceral level, 'Next' is a graphically violent flick with some very creative kills.
But 'Next' strives to achieve more than simply being a scary, thrilling slasher: 'You're Next' weaves a dark - but hilarious - wit that sets it apart from and above so many unremarkable horror flicks.
This film is very self-aware of its genre, and plays on typical horror conventions by turning them on their head. It is acutely aware of slasher tropes and manages to pull off a small miracle: 'Next' fulfills many horror plot/scene expectations, while simultaneously alluding to the ridiculousness of the situation.
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At first glance, the script isn't packed with a ton of hilarious one liners on paper - but 'Next' pulls out some huge laughs with its subtle and witty banter. But these funny bits of dialogue do not undermine the film's integrity. Even when they're being delivered in otherwise intense/threatening scenes, the jokes ride the momentum of the scene instead of feeling like shoehorned jokes that grind dramatic scenes to a halt.
The end result is a fun film that rides the intensity of a thriller, visceral violence of a slasher and sly fun of a witty comedy.
One of its main flaws, however, is 'Next' has a long, slow wind-up during its first act. Not much happens in the first act, except the family members gradually making their way to the secluded estate. In many ways the second act most slavishly follows many slasher expectations - but the incredible and fun third act throws out the rule book of horror conventions.
Final verdict: This film validates every attempt to 'reinvent the wheel.' "You're Next" is simultaneously a very tride-and-true slasher as well as a revitalizing take on horror thrillers.