Cameron's Review of You're Next
I can't help but look at that fox-mask guy with a machete on this film's poster and both say, "Man, Jason Voorhees can make any mask scary", and laugh, not necessarily because it's a man with a fox mask and a machete, (I don't care if it's Elmo, I'm not laughing at anyone with a machete), but because the title is so ironic at this point. Uh, yeah, if this is supposed to be "next", then how did they end up taking two blasted years to release this thing? Jeez, when they say that this is the "long-awaited" latest collaboration between Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett after "A Horrible Way to Die", they, well, are probably still kidding, because, seriously, who's been waiting for the follow-up to "A Horrible Way to Die"... the first segment of "V/H/S"... and the second segment of "V/H/S/2" (Like I said, they really saved this thing up)? Well, like it or not, folks, it's here, so I reckon you could say that this film is ready to "step up" to the occasion... that is, if you remember "Step Up 3D", let alone who Sharni Vinson is, and have the shamelessness to make such a lame joke. Yeah, I'm sorry for my reference-based humor, but then again, this film's reference-based humor, while regarding stuff a little cooler than "Step Up", isn't too much less fall-flat, probably because this somewhat tongue-in-cheek thriller has the misfortune of finally getting around to showing up "after" "The Cabin in the Woods", and even being released after "The Purge", an even funnier home invasion thriller (It's not exactly funny for all the right reasons, but you get the point). Wow, this film really has missed a lot, but hey, I'm still alright with it, and yet dating is by no means its only problem.
Throughout its course, the film hits some inconsistencies in focus and tone, but one of the more notable elements that go plagued with unevenness is pacing, because the film will go along at a brisk clip, then limp out under the weight of repetitious, meandering material, whose dragging is often sustained for too long of a while, and blands things up enough when you look at it on paper, without the atmospheric limp spells. Perhaps the dry spells within Adam Wingard's direction peaks with the first act, which is kind of dull, but even after that, it's only a matter of time before all of the atmospheric intensity cools down, leaving you to notice the pacing problems. Pacing issues are sometimes distancing, but perhaps an even bigger problem is characterization issues, as there is some serious underdevelopment within formulaic characters, who sometimes feel like mere components to the thrills, and whose disingenuousness isn't exactly made up for the acting portrayals of the characters. Now, as much as everyone is complaining about the acting in this film, there are some decent performances, or at least decent moments to the acting, but on the whole, while I never found the acting to be all that weak, convincingness is limited, and that, combined with the aforementioned shortcomings to characterization, gives the film a feeling of laziness within storytelling, no at all helped by familiarity. True, there are some refreshing elements here, some of which actually include mockery of clichés, but there are plenty of times in which the film gets to be too tropey for its own good, undercutting much of its mystery with some predictability, which, of course, leaves you unable to be distracted from the other problems. The film is very flawed, and while there's never any denying that, familiarity leaves you to soak up shortcomings, both consequential and natural, thus leaving the final product to go kind of threatened by mediocrity. Well, in the end, while the film still has its problems, what it does well is done well enough to keep you going, maybe a little, if you will, amused.
Sure, the dark humor sometimes jarringly breaks tension, resulting in tonal unevenness, partly because the comedic elements aren't played up too much on the whole, but when the humor works, it's frequently pretty effective, whether when it's playing upon some fluffy character exchanges, or even playing with morbid satire. The morbidity of the humor adds to the dark fun of this crazy flick, but not as often as the gore, for although this film's attention to harsh violence gets to be way too disturbing to be fun at times, the gleefully audacious shock value is bound to perk you up a bit, and even reinforce a sense of consequence. Gory slashers of this type tend to only offer morbid entertainment to the messy imagery, and while this film's attention to violence and humor is notably effective in the context of a dark comedy, intense imagery does some justice to the potential thrills of this story concept, which are limited, but still there. On top of being interpreted somewhat formulaically, this film's story concept's minimalism limits meat, but there is still a fair deal of intrigue to this thriller, resting within certain unique elements in the first place, and being expanded upon by some ambiguities that go unraveled rather well, little by little, in the midst of a claustrophobic scope. The small scale of this thriller keeps the plot from thickening all that much, and some predictability that is actually built with the unveiling of some unpredictable elements is in no way helpful, but in quite a few ways, this is still a pretty interesting story concept, with potential that is certainly not that well-explored, but still done some justice, particularly within the direction. In the hands of a lesser director, this film could have perhaps collapsed into mediocrity, but Adam Wingard carries the faulty final product about as much as anyone, taking advantage of an audacious attention to disturbing imagery and biting atmosphere in order to firmly establish tension, augmented by attempts to bring this story down to earth that go challenged by characterization problems, yet add a certain humanity to this grizzly thriller that further digs under your skin, and sometimes genuinely compels. If Wingard succeeds at establish nothing else, it's entertainment value, because through all of its slow spells and other distancing aspects, momentum is sustained enough throughout the final product to keep you going with dark liveliness and tension, if you're able to run with this flawed effort, that is.
In the end, uneven pacing, bonded with some atmospheric cold spells, drag things along as kind of bland, if not dull, while undercooked characterization, improvable performances and genericisms emphasize natural shortcomings enough for the final product to sputter out as rather underwhelming, but fair humor, gleeful gore and tense, or at least darkly lively storytelling behind a reasonably intriguing story concept prove to be enough to make Adam Wingard's "You're Next" a generally entertaining and often effective thriller, in spite of shortcomings.
2.5/5 - Fair