"You're Next" touts itself as a movie that turns the home invasion genre on its head. I'll buy that. Not only does it turn the genre on its head, it attempts to sever that head along the way.
"You're Next" doesn't start out well, and I don't just mean for the two clichéd characters who are our horror-slasher-home-invasion genre sacrificial lambs, there only to set up the plot. I mean the scene in which we meet our protagonist, Erin, (Sharni Vinson in a role that should really put her at the top of the every casting director's list) and her boyfriend, Crispian (AJ Bowen). They're driving to Crispian's parents' place, where Erin will be meeting his parents and family for the first time. And Erin asks, "Your parents are loaded, right?"
OK, I understand this is a low-budget slasher film and dialogue isn't at a premium. But am I supposed to believe that, on their way to meet her boyfriend's parents for the first time, that clumsy, obvious line is how we're supposed to learn that's she's dating an heir to a fortune?
Let's review: predictable and clichéd opening scene, followed by vacuous and moronic exposition.
I think it's almost time for me to take a nap.
Then, something happens. We meet Crispian's family, the Davisons, and they are hilarious, albeit in a B-actor, dysfunctional sort of way, which is extremely appealing. None of them are particularly likable but the family dynamic, though over-the-top, is delicious because you just know some of them are going to get it. But who? The mother? The father? Erin? Crispian? The obnoxious older brother, the treacly little sister, the morally ambiguous brother and his goth girlfriend? All of them? None of them? We don't have to wait long to find out.
Vinson, 30, is a force of a nature. "You're Next" simply wouldn't work without her truthful portrayal of Erin, a character saddled with a ridiculous back story. If only every film genre included strong, intelligent, able, admirable female protagonists like Erin but for some reason, Hollywood thinks they're only appealing in the life-and-death, graphically violent and bloody situations that are standard in a film like "You're Next."
Even with all of its flaws, including sub-mediocre story construction, fans of the horror-slasher genre will find "You're Next" thrilling, surprising, shocking, funny and ultimately satisfying.
Three-and-a-half out of five stars.