Impressions: You’re Next

You’re Next is the 2011 home invasion/slasher movie that came with a bit of a twist. Erin is going home to meet her boyfriend’s family as they all gather to celebrate with their parents. Crispian, the boyfriend, clearly struggles with his relationship with his family and expectations of him. While the family is fighting over dinner, one of the siblings’ partners is shot with a crossbow, and all hell breaks loose. It doesn’t take long for the family and their guest to discover that they are being hunted down one by one.

“The” twist (there are a few) is that Erin was raised on a survivalist compound in the Australian outback. In other words, she is uniquely qualified to see the family through this, and the hired killers are more than a little screwed when she starts to fight back.

You’re Next is rather fast-paced and incredibly violent, but it never seems to lose its hold on more suspenseful horror. If you look at certain scenes and the overall pacing, you’d be tempted to say it is gore porn, but that is far from the case. It does lean into the violence and gore, but that more seems to serve the style rather than being “all” the movie is.

The traps and kills from both sides of the conflict are brutal and intense, but in Erin’s case, they always bring an extra punch. We get to experience a lot more of the way Erin punishes the people after them than the brutal punishment they inflict on the family. Sure we see the aftermath, and their kills aren’t without detail entirely. There is a slant, though, with more of the brutality coming from Erin herself. I rather like this choice as it really did put more of the emphasis on Erin fighting back than the killers hunting the family down. They didn’t just change the formula by throwing badass Erin in the mix; they also changed the way the formula plays out. It actually helps emphasize the way the change feels.

Erin is not the first girl we’ve gotten to watch stalk the killers through their own horror movies, but she is one of the few that gets to be as violent, if not more so, than those killers. Doing this really shifts the way you see Erin and actually drives it home more. I think of High Tension (aside from the final act), and while Marie’s scenes where she was playing cat and mouse with the killer were interesting, it wasn’t the same as watching Erin knowing that she will go to extremes to get her kills.

Aside from enjoying the Erin aspect of it, the movie itself is just well crafted and done. There are a few pacing issues here and there, and I think developing the story just a touch better would have helped sell the other big twist. I also think the characters, especially the siblings, could have been fleshed out a little more. It would have helped sell particular moments’ emotional impact and probably helped certain plot points to land a bit better. However, these criticisms are relatively minor, and the movie’s overall impact is not lessened too much.

There is good tension and suspense with some scenes, both ones with Erin as the hunter and ones with the killers hunting her or other characters. Music is well used, and the original score is frankly perfect for the movie.

The nature of home invasion movies puts them at both a disadvantage and an advantage. On the one hand, we have seen them before, and there is not much you can do with them on their own. Having Erin fight back, and the way she does is one way that You’re Next attempts to set itself apart. The other being the way it doesn’t hold back and goes for a very visceral experience with the gore and brutality. On the other, they are helped because we are all a bit scared of them on instinct. Our homes are meant to be our safe haven, so when we see that principle being violated, it adds an automatic fear for most people. This allows the movie to focus on other aspects because they already have a degree of innate terror.

However, I will say this in regards to really leaning in with the severity of the gore and everything, this movie can get a bit overwhelming. I almost felt like I need a break after every time I watch. I don’t know what from, but I just do.

So bottom line? I actually really like this movie. It is unlikely to be in, say, my top five, but it would be included in a comprehensive list of my genre favorites. I would have liked to see a bit more fleshing out in a few areas, but honestly, everything else around it is so good. The violence is well done without feeling like gore porn. The choices with Erin are smart and really help this movie to stand out. Overall it’s just a solid experience. If you have yet to see this movie, you should really give it a chance. I think aside from the gore, even none genre fans could probably enjoy it. If you’ve seen it, I always recommend a revisit.

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