You’ll Find The “Magic” In ‘You’re Next’ This Weekend (Movie Review)

You're-Next-TNSo here’s a title that I profess to know nothing about going into the press screening last Thursday night at the brand new Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline here in Austin, TX.  Now come on, how can one turn that offer down?  I said the BRAND NEW Alamo Drafthouse!  I’m probably only the 100th person to have sat in the chair I plopped my a$$ down in last week.  So what were we talking about?  Oh yeah this movie.  It’s called You’re Next.  Now I must admit, the movie poster had me intrigued many months ago on iTunes Movie Trailers so I did what any outstanding American citizen would do.  I watched the trailer.  And…I wasn’t impressed with it.  It felt old and tired…like a rehash of The Strangers or something along those lines that we’ve seen a million times now.  So needless to say, I never intended to cover this one, but come on….THIS IS THE NEW ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE BABY!  The word decline was not even a possible choice in my vocabulary as far as I’m concerned.

Up in the paragraph above I referenced the word “old.”  Ironically, that’s exactly what You’re Next is.  It’s an old film.  Now what I mean by that is the fact that it had its world premiere way back in 2011 at the Toronto International Film Festival.  Talk about a long time to make it to the theaters, huh?  Eleven days later it was announced that my favorite studio Lionsgate had acquired the American, British and Canadian distribution rights to the film.  What took it so bloody damn long to get released theatrically?  I have no idea and since I wasn’t really doing cartwheels over the thought of watching this film, I decided not to waste any of my life researching it.  However, I will say this and you cna form your own opinion.  Other than Ti West’s name, there’s really no recognizable stars that jump right out at you.  The stars listed on the main bill include Sharni Vinson, AJ Bowen, Amy Seimetz, Barbara Crampton and Wendy Glenn.  That could be a concern when attracting finance, distribution and whatnot, no?

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So going into last Thursday evening’s screening, the film had a 92% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  Normally that’s outstanding, but my confidence level wasn’t at an all time high since there were only 12 reviews.  And they’re billing You’re Next as one of the smartest and most terrifying films in years as it reinvents the genre by putting a fresh twist on home-invasion horror.  Now wait!  I could be wrong, but isn’t that what Universal promised us with The Purge?  I thought it was so going into this screening I remained adamant that I’m not buying into the hype…just yet.

You’re Next is directed by Adam Wingard, whose former resume of work includes A Horrible Way To Die, V/H/S and V/H/S/2.  As a huge fan of the horror genre, I guess it would be shocking if you heard that I never seen any of those.  So are you sitting down?  No?  Not yet?  I will wait you take a seat…  Good!  You’re seated.  I never seen any of those aforementioned films.  But hey…never say never as Justin Bieber says or something like that.

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The premise of the film goes a little something like this.  There’s this house.  A gang of masked, ax-wielding murderers crash the Davison family reunion.  Wait!  Stop me if you’ve heard this one already.  Haha.  Okay.  I was just playing around.  So yeah, there’s this house and ax-wielding murderers.  The family is trapped inside.  You sure you have not heard this one?  LOL.  Okay, I’ll be serious now.  So the family is trapped inside.  What’s a family to do?  Wow!  I did not know our blankety blank family member (or maybe not yet a family member) was a self-sufficient, talented killer.  Well I’ll be damn.  You getting the gist of it yet?

However, here’s the kicker.  And let me turn the volume up so you can all hear me loud and clear.  YOU’RE NEXT WAS ACTUALLY GOOD.  Now I wouldn’t go as far to say it was genre-bending and sheer brilliance, but here’s the catch.  It was a home invasion movie with wit, logic and most importantly…a purpose.  I was so scared I was walking into another The Strangers wannabe clone, but what I got was a finished product with a Scream-like trait that I could work with.  It was a living, breathing tangible plot…not just some random let’s invade a house and kill the inhabitants because we can.  Of course, there are things I would change if I got my grubby paws on it, but let’s just say my level of satisfaction was peaked and my care-meter was working overtime.  And that’s all I’ll say because I feel I have already said too much.  The foot goes in the mouth right about…now.

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One of the things I think long time horror aficionados will appreciate is the film’s setup and most importantly…it’s score.  Some of it in my opinion is a throwback and homage to the classic slasher type pieces (I’ll even go as far as to say in line with Wes Craven) and most definitely the single best reason to ever put a Dwight Twilley Band song in your movie.  The filmmakers repeated use of their track “Looking For The Magic” will allow for the tune to seamlessly get embedded in your brain by the time you leave the theater.  You’ll be humming it all the way home.  Trust me.  This part I can least attest to is brilliant.  iTunes will make a fortune on this track alone over the weekend.  LOL.  They already got me.  What say you?  You’re next!  Haha.  I know.  Lame joke, Brian.  Try harder.  At least now you’ll understand the title of my post above, right?  Right!

I think what makes You’re Next so much fun and utterly engaging from the perspective of an audience member is the family’s constant bickering despite being plucked off one-by-one.  And as a disciple of good films and screenwriting techniques, we all know we can’t have that without fleshed out characters and most importantly the rich character development that goes into the screenwriting process.  I think although they do spend an inordinate amount of  time building up the unique characters in the family, it really pays off in the end as we truly get a sense of who’s who and why we care so much when they meet their untimely demises in blood soaked and sometimes unique ways.  Yes, it’s predictable at times, but like I would say over and over here…at least this film has a purpose no matter how inane you think it is.  There’s a reason for what happens and again…I’ll leave it at that.  Stop trying to make me divulge spoilers.  Geez!

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So I guess my lesson learned here is never to judge a book by its cover (a paper one) or in our case…a movie by its trailer.  If I would have went on my initial reaction to the film’s plain vanilla trailer, I would have passed up on the opportunity to see something really fresh as the film is being billed.  It’s no lie.  I was pleasantly surprised that the film had a reason to exist.  Thank God for the temptation of the press screening invite to the new Alamo Drafthouse or else I may have stupidly passed up the opportunity.  So since you asked if I was writing the tagline for the press release of this film I would bill it as Wes Craven’s Scream meets the hilarious antics of Home Alone.  There you have it!  Read into that all you want.  I dare you!

I just want to know what’s up “next” for You’re Next.  If people latch onto this like I feel they are going to (ala Cabin in the Woods style), there is going to have to be talks soon of a sequel?  It’s unavoidable don’t you think?  Well I hate to break it to you, but I guess from what I have read two are already planned.  I hope they have songs as catchy as “Looking For The Magic” in them too.  Until next time.  Tag.  You’re it.  I command you to support the horror scene and go see You’re Next this weekend.



Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

2 Responses to “You’ll Find The “Magic” In ‘You’re Next’ This Weekend (Movie Review)”

  1. Brandon Peters

    I can’t wait to see this one again. Great non-spoilery review! This movie was fun, smart, scary, funny, bloody…c’mon people…go see it!

    A horror movie where you actually give a crap about its characters and root for them? What a novel concept!

    Also, I feel like I could watch Amy Seimetz brush her teeth and be entertained. Love her.

  2. Brian White

    Thanks Brandon! I appreciate it. Ever since getting blasted in my Dark Knight Rises reviews unfairly for spoilers, I tread very lightly…especially with a film like this where you go in expecting The Strangers,, but come out with something 100x more fun than that!

    I believe Fandango has that deal this weekend where you get a ticket free to You’re Next if you buy one. You can’t beat that! —except with a whiffle ball bat —

    They did spend a great deal on character development, but it paid off in the end 🙂