You’re Next

tn_yourenextIn YOU’RE NEXT, a group of adult siblings and their significant others gather at their rich parents’ big ass, miles-from-where-anyone-can-hear-you house to celebrate their anniversary, but get invaded by 3 or more maniac killers wearing plastic animal masks. This is kinda the new subgenre, isn’t it? Faceless killer home invasion movies, like ILS (THEM), THE STRANGERS and THE PURGE. ILS was genuinely pretty scary, THE STRANGERS was for a while, and I didn’t watch THE PURGE but it looks hilarious. YOU’RE NEXT isn’t quite as tense as those other two I saw, but it’s more fun.

All of the web guys have been hyping this one up since it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and Fantastic Fest two years ago, so I’m not surprised that I’m seeing a little mini-backlash from people I know. But I don’t really blame anybody. It’s easy to see how people at a film festival see a brand new movie, are excited to tell everybody about it, it takes forever to come out, but they really want people to see it so they do everything they can to promote it, and by the time everybody else finally gets to see it it sounds like it’s supposed to be the Second Coming when it’s really just a fun horror movie. Which, in my opinion, is worth telling people about, so I appreciate the tip.

For me this was not a KICK ASS situation where it seems like you must’ve had to be there at that one midnight screening to have any idea how people could enjoy the movie that much. My smaller 7:50 multiplex audience for YOU’RE NEXT was laughing and enjoying themselves too.

An official plot summary from Lionsgate says that “YOU’RE NEXT reinvents the genre by putting a fresh twist on home-invasion horror,” but I don’t know about that. Put that out of your mind. There’s nothing reinventing, postmodern or trope-subverting about this as far as I noticed. It’s just a plain old fun horror movie, like a horror fan would want to see.

In fact, I think if somebody is claiming this is a more-self-aware-than-usual horror movie then it’s kind of condescending toward the long history of horror movie makers and fans. Yes, the young indie film scene guys who made this may have been aware that opening with a couple having sex and then getting killed is part of the slasher movie formula. But so were the guys who made the FRIDAY THE 13TH movies, stupid. Neither of them is commenting on it, they’re just two generations following in the same great tradition, for the same reason: people like that kinda shit. Including me.

No matter what anybody says, I think the goals of YOU’RE NEXT are modest. It’s not trying to be visionary, hit-you-in-the-gut horror like they got crawling out of France, or some kind of SCREAM meta deal. It’s just a slasher movie. Still a legitimate genre, people.

mp_yourenextLike alot of the horror movies that get put up on an internet pedestal this is the type that has alot of laughs and doesn’t make you feel bad. But luckily for my tastes I think it is a legit horror movie and not a horror-themed comedy. This is not Macklemore horror, the one that you resent because people you know who don’t really like horror say it’s the best horror. (Man, if Macklemore was popular when CABIN IN THE WOODS came out my I wouldn’t have had to compare it to Kenny G and my friend wouldn’t still be giving me shit about it.)

YOU’RE NEXT is enjoyable because it’s not afraid to do what many enjoyable lowbrow horror movies do, and often get shit for: make you laugh at the characters for making stupid decisions, and root for unlikable characters to bite it. But it also gives you one person to root for: one brother’s Australian girlfriend Erin, meeting the family for the first time, and played by STEP UP 3D’s Sharni Vinson. I totally forgot she was gonna be in this and didn’t realize she was the one all the early reviews were making a big deal about. I like to think we here, as appreciators of STEP UP 3, were ahead of the curve on this one. I mean, I already declared her my top ranking Step Up Girl, it’s only natural that she could also be a great new Final Girl (and soon Expendagal).

I was a little concerned at first that most of the characters were so immediately douchey. The parents (played by Barbara Crampton and the bad guy from KINGPIN [Rob Moran]) are nice, but we know that people in their 50s are not gonna be allowed to survive. Erin is the clear winner of audience sympathy, but CHRONICLE proves that some of these young filmatists think it’s a good idea to kill off any likable characters at the beginning and make you spend the rest of the movie looking at whiny assholes. So I really  was worried they’d make her go first, especially when she went around making sure the windows were closed and got grabbed by one of the animal-masks.

Then she turns around and stabs the motherfucker in the head, and he’s not magic so he screams. Alot of laughs come from how capable she is, immediately taking charge and telling people what to do, while everybody else stands around like a bunch of idiots. They look at her dumbfounded and wonder why she knows so much about first aid and weapons, or why the thought of hiding in the basement instantly makes her imagination jump to gasoline being dumped down the stairs and set on fire. What kind of a life have you lived, girl?

It’s kind of a have/eat cake situation, we get to root for Erin to win this battle, but also laugh at the viciousness of the others’ fates at the end of arrows or the sides of razor wires. One guy still bickering and insulting his family while he has an arrow sticking out of his back is kind of permission for us to not feel too bad about the massacre. And of course the invaders are human and morally despicable, so we get to enjoy painful revenge inflicted on them, a pleasure you don’t get much of in a Jason, Michael or Freddy movie.

By the way, at some point people in movies are gonna have to learn that if you get an arrow or shard in you you should leave it in until you can get proper medical treatment. Pulling it out is just gonna make you bleed to death, you dumb bastard. That was the one thing I was disappointed in Erin for not knowing.

Filmatistically it’s pretty basic, well-executed if not visually impressive. My one complaint is one familiar in action movies but not horror: when the shit first starts going down the camera starts shaking all over the place. It’s not so much that it’s hard to tell what’s going on. This is the rare case where it actually made me kinda whoozy, like people said about BLAIR WITCH PROJECT back in the day. I started thinking about all of the beautiful, careful camera moves in horror classics by John Carpenter, Brian DePalma and Stanley Kubrick, and how even the lesser horror directors used to love to use cranes and steadicams, and… luckily then the camera calmed the fuck down so I was able to stop worrying about it.

This is not so much a criticism as a minor observation: the title is weirdly insignificant. There’s no strong reason why the attackers write the phrase in blood two times. In the prologue it’s seen scrawled on a window, but director Adam Wingard chooses not to use its reveal as the title card. At the end he opts not to have the Final Girl say it to the last guy she has to kill. And when it’s splattered across the screen for the end credits it has no larger meaning, no reason to think it’s talking to us. It’s just the title again. Maybe using it in those ways would be too obvious, but I think it would be satisfying.

I assumed this Adam Wingard was a rookie director, like so many who make an impressive indie horror movie out of nowhere. But actually he’d done 3 features before, two I think are unreleased on video but one was A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE, which I think I’d even heard of before, unless I’m just mixing it up with A LONELY PLACE TO DIE. He’s since done segments in the VHS and ABCs OF DEATH anthology movies. Writer Simon Barrett also did A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE and other things with him. He wrote DEAD BIRDS, which I’ve heard is good, maybe I’ll finally get to that this Halloween season. Also he’s a legit DTV horror guy because the motherfucker wrote FRANKENFISH.

For some reason the movie I want to compare this to is CABIN FEVER: just a fun  audience horror movie, it knows the tricks and is enjoying them, not making fun of them. It’s probly not as clever as CABIN FEVER though, and I’ll be surprised if these guys grow into horror practicioners as reliable as Eli Roth. But I’d like to be wrong. I want to see a sequel where [SPOILER] a gang of angry surfers try to avenge Erin for killing their friends. And do not live to regret it.

Remember, you don’t gotta pretend it’s subverting tropes or some shit. Admit it, guys: you liked a plain old horror movie. And that’s okay.

This entry was posted on Friday, August 30th, 2013 at 5:19 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

58 Responses to “You’re Next”

  1. “As reliable as Eli Roth” was an unexpected phrase. I think I know what you mean.

  2. I know it’s a throwaway line, Vern–and the review as a whole works as well as all yours do–but I gotta say that I like rap a lot and I think Macklemore is pretty damn great. Not the *greatest* or anything, but a talented and thoughtful dude putting out good stuff. That’s all.


  3. yeah, Eli Roth hasn’t made a movie in a very long time, but he’s working on one now I think

  4. This was a sincere pseudo-throwback to the slasher movie, and its a good legitimate entry without bogging down in nostalgia remaking scenes from better films. Kinda like THE CONJURING earlier this summer for the haunted house movie. Yes nerds inevitably overrate it because horror fans looking for genuine good work is like a thirsty man trapped in the desert. Give him a dixie cup of water, and it becomes an Oasis. But please Vern (and Internet), try to not hold this overreaction against the films. They’re pretty good. Nothing more than that, but shit good horror movies are worth celebrating always in my book. (Not seen THE PURGE, but the reviews were rotten. I wouldn’t be shocked if YN was much better than PURGE.)

    Anyway the fact that YN it has a healthy sense of humor, but NOT A PARODY AT ALL, impresses me. God knows some of the slashers back in the day could be truely hilarious. (Jason slamming sleeping bag against tree? For some reason that always cracked me up, even though I doubt that was the intention.)

    Hell the over the top Blender kill in YN is like an outtake from a F13 movie.

    I do agree with Vern, I hate critics who just refuse to admit to liking a slasher movie or horror film. You know, there are good slasher movies, and YOU’RE NEXT is another one. Not on the level of HALLOWEEN or the first F13, but YN in some ways works the same designed function as those classics did.

  5. Weird, STEP UP 3Dette’s hyper-awareness & uber-skills didn’t register with me until after she revealed that she had been a SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER YOU’RE NEXT SPOILERS WRITTEN IN BLOOD ON YOUR PARENTS’ BEDROOM WALL SPOILER survivalist camp, er, survivor. Her remark about the gasoline & the basement, and other comments & relentless hammerings of bad guys’ skulls, seemed like common sense, like a cleanly obvious part of the script that thankfully doesn’t deign to stupidity & convenience, and I’m just now realizing that people consider parts like that to be signs of surprise and/or filmatistical excellence & character depth.

    In conclusion I don’t know what macklemore is. (40th anniversary of the blaxsploitation semi-classic THE MACK?)

  6. Vern must have 9-11 OIF/OEF[/Syria2013?????] commentary burnout or something after re-reviewing Tom Cruise is WAR OF THE WORLDS, cuz he doesn’t mention the
    the fact that the killers are (I think?) combat veterans, hired mercenaries chosen for their crossbow skills*.

    The film fails to make (or admirably avoids making) a statement on, like, PTSD or conditioned psycho-ism, but there’s a slight ‘there’ there in my opinion.

    Actually, now that I think about it, the filmmakers & cast are a bunch of pussy lame-o dough-abbed bitchass pale hipsters
    (outside Sharni “Born From a BoomBox” Vinson, of course)
    (and maybe Zee, who I dig, despite her weird willingness to bone while sharing a bed with Barbara Crampton’s too-hot-for-52-years-old corpse),
    so I’m okay with us ignoring any possible political commentary. We’re trying to enjoy a meat-n-potatoes standard, lovingly made horror flick, here, people, quit Mouth-ing it up with undue extra-cinematic context, fuck!

    *We all know that bow-&-arrowsploitation action cinema began with FIRST BLOOD PART II (1985) and ended with RAMBO (2008). But what of the crossbow, that exotically olden weapon preferred by the likes of Blade’s assistants and medieval warriors? Has it yet found its cultural moment, its indelibly definitive instance of utility? Is YOU’RE NEXT it? Not with this camerawork, sadly, but still. . . almost a good job on that, Adam Wingard.

  7. I’ll add that, if you are going to make a significant portion of your film into a brutal semi-remake of HOME ALONE, then YOU’RE NEXT is a better instructional template for how to realize that decision than, say, SKYFALL. In my opinion.

    There’s not one line that’s cheesier or more ill-received/delivered in YOU’RE NEXT than SKYFALL’S “Welcome to Scotland,” an unfortunate utterance which happens to rock the [anti-]crown for Nadir of 007 Cinema Scriptorialism, Non-Misogynist Dialogue Category.

  8. Can’t really put my finger on why I didn’t like this one. The shaky cam is something I ALWAYS think I’ve adapted towards, and then a movie like this just gives me a pounding headache. It’s especially weird when you think it’s just part of the super low-fi aesthetic, and then near the end that INCREDIBLY funky synth kicks in out of nowhere, the first suggestion that someone spent more than $5 on this thing.

    Also amused by most of the jokey stuff, particularly the bit where Joe Swanberg is giving Ti West shit about how his (their?) films play to audiences of zero. Really stuffed this thing with “mumblecore” all-stars. Vern, would love to know your take on some films in that genre.

    And speaking of Sharni Vinson and Step Up 3, I did Tweet at Step Up 5 director Trish Sie to get THIS to happen https://twitter.com/bigbadtrish/status/372163603748491264.

  9. idiot boy: Eli Roth has been slow-going, but in re-watching them I realized how solid HOSTEL and HOSTEL II are… I just mean that with three good horror movies in a row he is a legitimate horror director and not a fluke or a tourist.

    Ben: I might have to do a whole column on the Macklemore phenomenon. I probly get more Macklemore wearout than you, unless you’re in Seattle too. People act like it’s their patriotic duty to support him. I think he sold out 3 straight arena shows. I think about the greatest rappers of all time and I doubt any of them could’ve done that at their peaks. And he’s not in the top 100.

    I respect alot of things about him and that he has a hit song about equality and everything, I just think he’s corny and have personally witnessed people doing a conga line to one of his songs. Before the thrift store thing he got alot of local radio play by doing a passionate song about the announcer for the Mariners dying. I gotta respect his openness but also can’t fucking take a guy seriously after he’s doing the breathless “I’m about to cry” Jay-Z style under a sample of a home run call. I mean jesus Macklemore.

    I’m not saying he’s the worst, I’d listen to him before alot of other shit that’s popular and even respected. I just hate the implication that in general hip hop is not worth somebody’s time but this guy transcends. It’s the same as CABIN IN THE WOODS. I like that movie I just hate people who don’t like horror movies saying that a comedy about funny office workers and a killer unicorn is better than all the legitimately great horror that has come out in the last decade. And I resent that Macklemore is gonna be dancing around in the Key Arena 3 days in a row but Pharaohe Monch couldn’t half–fill the Crocodile Cafe at $15 a head.

    Mouth: Man, I forgot to talk about Zee and the use of arrows and a couple other things. Also I wish I had used the term bfabb, that was obviously a missed opportunity.

    Gabe: I didn’t know about STEP UP 5!

  10. A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE was appallingly, unbearably awful and Winguard’s V/H/S and A/B/C segments were total fucking shit so I may have to give this one a wide berth.

    I really don’t know about this particular crew of filmmakers to be honest (Winguard, Simon Barrett, Joe Swanberg etc) but there is just something so amateurish and under-nourished about everything they seem to produce. Even Ti West’s joints feel slight and insignificant and underdeveloped to me. None of this has to do with a lack of genre subversion either I don’t think. I just feel that their films (feature length, video tape length and alphabet length) have no stylistic or visceral impact, and the genre conventions that they adhere to aren’t set-up or paid-off entertainingly enough to make them feel fresh or memorable or even interesting. It doesn’t matter that this shit has all been done a hundred times before, but it does matter that it has been done a hundred times better and I don’t think that these guys are even trying to *match* the bar set for horror, let alone raise it.

    I’ve just found everything I’ve seen from these guys so far to be so utterly marginal and pointless and lacking in effort but still feeling somehow self-congratulatory and smug.

    Maybe one day I’ll give YOU’RE NEXT a shot and it will blow my brains out of the hole in my butt and I will immediately post a grovelling retraction on here but if it is anything even remotely like The Winguardian’s previous joints then I imagine that scenario is highly unlikely.

    Also the cinematography in LIVE FREE OR DIE HORRIBLE would have to be in the top five best examples of how not to shoot hand-held in the history of the medium.

    I’m really sorry for the rant guys and I’m sure that I will regret posting something so totally negative but for some reason these assholes just really piss me off. Anyway, I’m glad to hear that other people seem to be digging this thing though. Irrespective of my curmudgeonly attitude it’s always awesome to see a film like this get international theatrical distribution (it’s even playing here in Perth, although only at one cinema attached to a horrible shopping centre miles from anywhere which is a little disheartening).

    In other news, THE INCIDENT AKA ASYLUM BLACKOUT was a pleasant, if deeply flawed, surprise.

  11. The best thing about this site is that now I know who Pharaohe Monch is. Vern, you should start a hip-hop byline, I would totally read it.

  12. If you ask me, this movie resembles –structurally, anyway– a rape/revenge type genre movie more than a traditional slasher (except that no one is raped, so it’s more fun to watch). It’s not unheard of for the “final girl” to end the movie by turning the tables on her stalker (HALLOWEEN H20, for an extreme example) but YOU’RE NEXT doesn’t just have a coda where she stands up to the slasher; like a rape/revenge setup, it’s almost half-and-half. Half ugly horror movie, to establish how much we should hate the villains, and then fully half payback, so we can enjoy the rich rewards of bloody vengeance against these assholes. A slasher movie focuses it’s attention on the slasher (THE COLLECTOR, for example) and his/her creative means of dispatching victims. YOU’RE NEXT, though, saves almost all the good gimmicks for the Final Girl. It’s focused on her revenge, not her attackers motives or methods. We just need to hate them so we ca enjoy watching her do her thing. That, to me, is a key difference and the main reason why this conjures I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE more than FRIDAY THE 13th. No one is raped, but adding the family angle makes it particularly personal and taboo-pushing, creating a similar effect which we can enjoy more.

  13. Yeah, this was a good one. Not a parody, not a satire, not an homage, just a kinda quirky take on an old form. A blues standard played on a ukelele.

    The one inspired touch was to make the Final Girl ubercompetent right from the start, thus removing all of the suspension-of-disbelief-spoiling cliches where the only reason the plot gets to continue is that the people it’s happening to are idiots. I agree with Mouth that her survivalist backstory was unnecessary, though. It would have been cool if she was just a naturally level-headed chick who kept her head in a crisis. Or, alternately, was just Australian. I would have bought that as an explanation, I’ve seen enough Australian movies to know that every Aussie chick will eventually get terrorized by a bunch of hooting yahoos who have a spotlight on the rollbar of their pickup truck, so I just assumed she had some kind of home invasion experience.

    Griff: Roth produced and starred in AFTERSHOCK earlier this year, which absolutely nobody saw but is worth checking out. It’s got a mean-spirited sense of humor that I got a kick out of.

    Mouth: I believe bow-&-arrowsploitation actually has its roots in the 1976 Jonathan Demme film FIGHTING MAD, starring Peter Fonda as a hippie intellectual liberal pinko four-eyes peacemonger who straw dogs up when some fat cat industrialists try to take over his family’s land. Because he’s all organic and grassroots and shit, he takes them on with a bow and arrow instead of the gunpowder and steel of the imperialist machine. It’s actually a pretty good movie, with the flair for party scenes and musical performance that would characterize Demme’s later work, as well as a really awesome god’s-eye-view bulldozer explosion, which would not.

  14. Jareth Cutestory

    August 31st, 2013 at 7:40 am

    “A quirky take on an old form.” I think LORDS OF SALEM accomplished something similar with surprisingly watchable results. I’m not convinced that Zombie’s reverence for the genre is the best way to make a scary movie, but damn if that wasn’t a handsome, lovingly crafted movie.

  15. Roth just finished The Green Hell, a film that just got an R for “aberrant violence”.
    It was filmed last year in the jungles of Peru and is his version of a cannibal explotation flick.

  16. I agree with 1-900-MIXALOT rant. Wingard segments ABC of death and VHS 2 were the worst.

  17. So I read this one asshole online who called YN “camp.” This and fucking IM3, why don’t people know what the hell “camp” really is?

    the 6th FRIDAY THE 13TH movie? That was a camp slasher, for example.

  18. MIXALOT, I had the same reaction to AHWTD so YN totally surprised me. It’s a major improvement.

  19. I love the idea of Evil Point Break, but didn’t that guy said they “served” together? (Or, probably, I’ve totally missed the joke).

  20. If you guys honestly think Wingard’s segment of ABC’s OF DEATH was the worst, I question whether you watched the whole thing. His segment of VHS is, admittedly, the second worst, after the aggressively unwatchable “Tuesday the 17th.” But his ABC’s segment is the tits, easily one of the best made and most memorable segments in the whole film.

    Honestly, Wingard has been getting better with every film, it’s just that HOME SICK and POP SKULL are so unremittingly terrible that it’s only recently that he’s graduated to making AHWTD (his fist film which won’t make you eyeballs bleed) and YOU’RE NEXT (his first that is actually genuinely enjoyable).

  21. Ugh ABCs of Death. I haven’t hated a movie so much in years that I never finished it. Just a mean spirited depressing experience. It’s funny because the segment that made me realize that I had more to love for was the directed by the guy who co-directed the segment in VHS 2 I want to see most. Though mostly cause the other director is Gareth Evans.

    I like You’re Next so much because it is fun and allows you to root for somebody. It feels like most non ghost horror movies has to be so cynical. Maybe that’s why I like The Collection and 80s slasher films. Too many films just end with everybody dead.

  22. Franchise Fred: Thank you for the heads up, man. I will check it out when I can I and will really, really try to go into it with an open mind. I honestly don’t ever hope for a movie to suck so I will be overjoyed if YN proves me wrong and kicks my ass and then hugs it out with me afterwards etc.

    Mr. Subtlety: Jesus, I’d forgotten all about POP SKULL. Holy shit what a fucking atrocity that was.

    As for ABCs OF DEATH, I did indeed (and quite regrettably) watch the entire thing and didn’t think that Wingard’s segment was the worst. Sorry if my phrasing somehow made it seem like that was the case. But I did think that it was clumsy and obvious and nowhere near as clever as it seemed to think it was and kind of embarrassing to sit through. I’m sorry, I know that’s a pretty harsh assessment but I just really fucking hated it.

    I agree with you 100% about “Tuesday the 17th” though. That thing was vicious bad.

    I will now make myself scarce until I’ve, you know, seen the film that everybody is actually discussing.

  23. The whole “you’re next” thing adding up to absolutely nothing was irritating as it was, but then throwing the title up on the screen like that at the end like it was some big fucking “tah-daah” was downright maddening. Could something so simple turn me against a movie?

    Apparently yes, yes it can.

  24. I just saw this today and really liked it. I have to thank you, Vern, for the review, because somehow this had slipped by my radar.

    I get what everyone is saying about the explanation about her survivalist past being unnecessary, but I was actually thinking it was going to be something bigger, like she had to fight off home invaders before and I was glad that it was as simple as it was. I liked that it was just knowledge and not actual, hands-on experience with violence. It made her bad ass and yet I could still relate. I like that she took charge and did smart things, but still made a few mistakes to keep her human.

    To be fair, Vern, she did tell them not to remove the arrow, but by the time she *SPOILER* got the shard of glass in her thigh I think she was to the point of survival mode where she’d have to take a chance and yank it out because she couldn’t be running and fighting with a big ass shard of glass in her thigh. Plus, it was on the outside of her thigh and away from all major arteries and veins and I would bet she knew that.

    My friend and I were debating whether she waited around for the police or just ran off. What is everyone’s thoughts on that? I can see with her upbringing of distrusting authority, the *SPOILER* recent betrayal of her boyfriend and a fresh bullet wound from a butchered cop’s gun that she might just take off. But I’m not sure.

  25. I enjoyed ABCs of Death. Like any anthology film, there will be hits and there will be misses, but there were definitely moments of fun and creativity on display. I’m just glad there are still people out there making horror anthologies.

    Oh, and that new Eli Roth film is called The Green Inferno. It’s about a bunch of student activists that head into the jungle and meet some friendly cannibals who may or may not want to eat them.

    Here’s what Roth had to say in an interview with Bleeding Cool:

    “I’ve seen so many students in the US basically just hitting the retweet button and then they feel good about themselves. And then there’s Occupy Wall Street, Free Pussy Riot, whatever the latest cause is, they want to latch onto it without researching it, and they don’t really know anything about it when you actually talk to them. Okay, not everyone, but for a lot of people it’s more re-activism, they’re doing it to feel better about themselves not because they really care.

    “So here are kids that get caught up in thinking that because they have phones and they can stream video they can go and shut down construction and they do, it really works… but then their plane crashes and they’re captured by the very people they saved. Food, from the sky!

    “There’s an idea that you shouldn’t be messing in somebody’s business – you’re a smart student, but to somebody else, you’re an invader.

    “I don’t want to analyse it too much but I always, in my own writing, feel very strongly about certain things. The Green Inferno, in the main, is about the main character, the daughter of a lawyer at the UN. He does everything by policy, and he tells her you can’t just run in with your phone and be a cowboy and change things over night. She thinks that because she can stream and tweet and blog… it’s like Kony 2012, that’s what the movie is about.

    “Everybody bought these T-shirts and said “it’s terrible, it’s terrible” but do you think Joseph Kony’s tweets made a fucking bit of difference? You can make all the YouTube videos you want but it doesn’t mean anything. It’s not the way to get things done. In The Green Inferno, these kids have this fantasy that they can fix everything with their phones but they get their asses kicked.”

  26. I like what Eli Roth is saying. I just assume all the kids in the movie will be so unlikeable that it is going to be depressing. That dude must have some shitty friends.

  27. I’m gonna take a crack at defending the “You’re next” thing. At first, it kind of bugged me that it was so arbitrary and meaningless. Then it hit me that that’s kind of the point.


    Remember, these assholes are not actual serial killers. They’re mercenaries pretending to be serial killers. And if there’s one thing that every yahoo who’s ever seen an episode of CSI knows, it’s that serial killers leave behind calling cards. “You’re next” is just something for the cops to find to tie the two crime scenes together and assume they have a thrill kill cult on their hands so they won’t look too closely into the motives of the surviving family members. These aren’t SE7EN-style criminal geniuses whose murders give you an insight into the dense mythology of their personal psychoses. They’re just poseurs, faking it. Their real motivation is greed, not the fetishistic pleasure real serial killers get from leaving their mark on a crime scene. The banality of “You’re next” is exactly the kind of thing these unimaginative idiots would come up with. They all probably high-fived each other when they thought up this lame, generic gimmick.

    It’s still not all that great a hook to hang the movie on, but it does make sense from a story and character perspective.

  28. I think the term that Eli Roth was trying to use is “Slacktivism”. And I really hope at least one of the victims in his new film wears one of these Guy Fawkes masks.

  29. thanks eli! now instead of pretending to care and doing something ineffectual we can ditch that game, give up and do nothing like everyone else.

  30. Yeah, I’m sure that’s what he meant, Philip.

  31. Knox, I have no idea what he meant. And given that his new movie will probably influence people’s behavior about as much as his old movie changed the way americans act while visiting abroad I suppose I shouldn’t care. But his comments have a kind of attitude about them which I find annoying and I will tell you why.

    Let’s put aside the incoherence of his position (he doesn’t like people who both think their tweets alone change the world and who also run off into the rainforest to make a difference– there has never been anyone like that in the world). Crapping on 20 year olds for petty insubordination has the effect of convincing people to do nothing. Why? Because anyone with a brain who has a problem with institutionalized anything quickly notices just how powerful that institution is, and even that it overlaps with other disagreeable institutions as well. It’s almost like fighting a god. That’s daunting. It is very easy to convince yourself there’s no point and that apathy is the correct course. People do this all the time.

    So if you are going to criticize people for merely retweeting shit or “liking” some youtube video you also must give them concrete alternatives or shit just seems hopeless. and this is a tribal cannibalism exploitation movie, so I’m pretty sure that’s out. So I wish people who think like Roth would change up their approach a little, because this style or argumentation does zero good.

  32. I don’t think that Roth is promoting apathy. If anything, I think he’s encouraging more thought and commitment when it comes to activism, instead of just signing a petition and feeling good about yourself afterwards.

  33. Late to the party on the ABCs OF DEATH convo, but by far the worst segment was (and I hate to say this) Ti West’s. West’s HOUSE OF THE DEVIL and THE INNKEEPERS are two of my most cherish modern horror films, but I have no idea what the fuck he was thinking with his ABCs segment. It’s just uneventful buildup to a not particularly gross/disturbing/funny/interesting punchline… and he totally botches the punchline! There are 12 year olds making more satisfying horror movies on cheap camcorders they swiped from their parents. If he spent more than 30 minutes conceiving/writing/filming/editing the whole thing then I would be surprised. I like to think that maybe he got the ABCs producers to give him a bunch of money for his short, then spent $15 making it and pocketed the rest.

  34. Ti West’s felt like a big F U to the whole project. You want a short? Here’s a short. Call it MISCARRIAGE, don’t bother me. Such a dick move.

  35. I think you missed one of the major points in my comment Knox, but it doesn’t really matter.

    On another note, I recall you being the only one to recommend the 2008 Korean movie THE CHASER. That movie… wow. What a tough watch. It’s a very good thriller but man is it draining. It’s going to be days before I’m interested in watching anything more intense than Upstairs Downstairs. Thanks a ton for the recommendation.

    N.B. Are Korean police by far the worst in the first world? It seems like an inordinate number of their movie depict their cops as almost impossibly unprofessional.

  36. Just seen and enjoyed “You’re Next”. This will be a mercifully short post because I really have nothing to add about this movie than Vern hadn’t already said. I even spotted the thing about people pulling stuff out of wounds. Even I know that’s a bad idea, and it’s fair to say that I’m short on survivalist training.

    Still, concur absolutely with what Vern has already said. Good movie, a bit of annoying shakycam in parts but definitely worth a watch for fans of “straight” horror.

  37. Hey Vern, are you going to write that column on Macklemore now? I’d be interested to hear your take on that whole Grammy win/Kendrick Lamar thing.

  38. Ok, I’m pretty sure no one is still looking at the comments for this review, but I really urge both Vern and the fine commenters of this site to check out Adam Wingard’s new film THE GUEST which is out in a week or two in the UK and I guess the same in the States (I saw it at Frightfest here in London last week). It’s a really clever riff on some 90s action films, and one particular film (or at least type of) early 90s action film in particular, but to say which one woud totally give the game away. I don’t want to say too much, it’sdefintely one of those movies that goes off in places you don’t want to expect, but I’d be very interested to see what the film minds that frequent https://outlawvern.com think of it.

  39. Thanks for the heads up, Wil. I never even heard of that before. Your description sounds way cooler than the official plot synopsis. I’m looking forward to it now.

  40. Just so you know.
    YOU´RE NEXT is not listed in that alphabetical review list of yours or maybe i just couldn´t find it.
    By the way: Did you ever saw THE SIGNAL? Great flick which also has A.J. Bowden in it and was part-directed by Adam Wingard. Check it out when you should see it on the side of your road. Greetings from weird ol´germany!

  41. Okay. I just realized that Adam Wingard wasn´t connected to that THE SIGNAL movie from 2007.
    I just confused this because A.J. Bowden plays the psycho in that one. It´s still a great movie though…

  42. Just caught of sneak preview of THE GUEST. It’s the fucking truth, you guys. It’s funny, badass, smart, subversive. We’re gonna have a lot to talk about.

    I don’t want to get into it too much because I went in not knowing a thing about it and that made it a lot better. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to really have no clue what direction a story is going to take.

    The funny thing was that I had no idea that the main actor (who was excellent, by the way) was on DOWNTON ABBEY, who was part of the filmmaker Q&A afterward. Mr. Handsome Pants’ presence crossed with the interweb success of YOU’RE NEXT meant that the audience was a once-in-a-lifetime mix of Fangoria subscribers and soccer moms. Both factions left satisfied. As we all shuffled out of the theater, all I heard were ladies-of-a-certain age saying they never watch this kind of thing but they liked it so much more than they’d thought they would. It was really heartwarming to see a bunch of norms get swept up in the cathartic pleasures of badass cinema.

  43. Good to hear – I really want to catch that one, but naturally it’s not playing anywhere near me at the moment. Rural Ireland, man.

    So what do you say? Do you think Stevens could pull off a good Plissken?

  44. You know what? I think he could. I never even heard of the guy before (I’m usually pretty good at picking out fake American accents, so imagine my surprise when he comes out for the Q&A talking like the Dread Pirate Roberts) but he was great in the movie. He had this kind of arch awesomeness that was both badass and funny, and he can say a lot without saying anything at all. That’s Job One when it comes to Snake.

  45. What?!

    How dare he not conform to my preconceived notions! I was sure that he’s not able to convincingly play anything but a conflicted toff! This is unconscionable!

    Seriously though, if he’s believably badass in the part, that’s great. It gives me hope that there at least somebody in the running for the Snake part who isn’t utterly bland.
    (I still don’t really see it, though.)

  46. Like I said, I’d never even heard of the guy before, so to me he was just The Guest. The ladies in the audience who just came to see him seemed really surprised and pleased with his transformation in the film.

    Another reason I can buy him as Snake is that he told us his favorite movie was BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. He gets it.

  47. Yeah, I wrote a mostly spoiler-free review in the forums of “The Guest” (there are spoilers but I’ve put them in “spoiler tags”), but basically I agree with Majestyk. It’s absolutely worth seeing. The two main stars really impressed me in this one. Especially Maika Monroe. I seriously hope she doesn’t end up as a “scream queen” doing third-rate ripoffs or “re-imaginings” of classic horror movies that I’ll never see. She’s a damn sight better than that.

    “Downton Abbey” is the kind of thing I generally avoid like the plague, so I didn’t know Stevens either. But he’s really excellent in “The Guest”.

  48. I think internet hyperbole machine claims another victim, as I finally saw this and was like, ‘Yeah, it’s alright”. Definitely well-shot and well-paced, but also riddled with an above-average number of plot hole/”wait why the hell are they doing that?” moments. From all the praise this one gets from hard-to-please types, it seems weird people give a pass to some glaring head-scratchers like *SPOILER* why did they leave the mom alone when they suspect the killers are in the house? Why did they not suspect someone was still in the room and check in the most obvious place? (under the bed) How come sometimes people were scared to walk in front of windows because of the crossbow, but other times they walked right in front of a window without a care in the world (as the heroine did in the kitchen several times). This is a movie where people stand in just the right place to overhear just the right revealing snippets of dialogue, and ends with one villain literally babbling the entire plan to the wrong person on the phone, like Three’s Company or some shit. And I won’t accept “you don’t get it, it’s a parody of home-invasion movies” because if that’s the case it’s a pretty ineffective parody.

    On a random note: I’ve ranted on this site about how I hate the old “someone gets killed suddenly in a middle of a sentence” gag. It’s effective but also cheap and kind of distracting because you can always tell vaguely when it’s going to happen, and I just kinda zone out on what the character’s saying because I’m like “here it comes” (i.e. Sam Jackson’s death in Deep Blue Sea). Anyways, I heard that this movie was full of deaths like that (which is a big reason I put off watching it), but I was pleasantly surprised that pretty much every single death (with the exception of one) is pretty well telegraphed (in the case of the sister’s, ridiculously so).

    Anyway, it’s still a pretty decent movie and I still want to check out The Guest even though I’m afraid the internet hyperbole machine might strike again.

  49. Neal2Zod – but you thought it was still decent though right? I finally saw
    this just before Halloween and enjoyed myself. The review itself kind of covers how the span of ‘lltime between festivals and wide release can turn a decent film into a juggernaut of hype.
    You’re next was far from perfect but I wish there were more films like it.
    Fun horror isn’t a particularly prolific genre at the moment.

  50. Agree with neal2zod– this movie is frustrating. I would say the first half kind of sucks. I don’t mind illogical decisions or silly behavior when you’re under attack, but when characters act in ways that clearly no human being would ever act, that pulls me right out of the film. Unless there’s some solid payoff, like when the brother has an 8 inch bolt sticking out of his back and still feels the need to toss insults around. That was funny. As neal said though, the whole thing with the mom was infuriating. That would never, ever, ever happen and only served to advance the plot.

    The second half, when the tables start turning and the synth score starts warming up, is awesome though.

  51. I didn’t finish this one the first time I tried it, and I can’t remember why. I must have been in a frame of mind where I wasn’t up for the gore or the nihilism of it. I go through periods like that where life seems too dark on its own without me self-inflicting additional misery and despair. Or maybe it was something about the initial family reunion scenes and dinner where it seemed like a big circle jerk by a who’s who of douchey mumblecore horror dudes.

    But since someone mentioned it over in the BLOODY VALENTINE 2009 thread, and I outed myself as a non-fan of this, I felt compelled to revisit it this weekend. I must have just been in a bad mood, because it’s pretty great. I don’t have a lot more to say about it just now. I don’t see it as a true slasher film. It’s definitely gory as hell and has some good stalking. More of a gory crime thriller with some strong horror elements. For a true slasher film, I need there to be a central slasher dude (in rare occasions it’s a chick, in other rare occasions it’s a couple of dudes), and I need there to be no motive but a deranged lust for violence. So, I can’t really call this a slasher flick even if there is a fair amount of slashing going on. That said, I feel like this Wingard joint keeps that Ti West thing going of having really great premise, casting, scoring, locations and general production design, sound, etc. Basically, the ambiance and general aesthetics are really on point, the script is lean, and there’s plenty of suspense and tension. Even though they are making these things on a shoestring, the are extremely well-constructed and executed, classy, and robust. Feels like a real cinematic adventure and keeps you engaged all throughout. Great horror crime thriller, even if I can’t really put it in the classic slasher category.

  52. I love You’re Next but I haven’t seen in since the initial theater view. I saw it with my wife and we had a blast watching it. My wife is awesome at watching horror movies, especially if she’s invested in the film. Sometimes my wife’s smarts can suck her out of a horror movie. That is especially when any medical stuff is completely wrong. Her explaining how much the film Barracuda is full of shit is one of the funniest experiences during a movie.

  53. Glad to have you on the correct opinion finally Skani! To honor you I will try and give VALENTINE a shot earlier than expected and get back to you. I’ve been having a lot of pleasant (movie) surprises as of late and have a good feeling on that one based on your recommendation.


    A few people commented above about how certain plot inconsistencies gave them problems, like how people were sometimes being very careful not to stand in front of windows and other times acting clueless about it. I think that’s a fair criticism, as that kind of inconsistency does crop up, and in some cases I was even noticing it while it was happening. But it still didn’t bother me. I was prepared to go along, so long as they kept up the momentum and the escalation. I don’t mean to let them off the hook, as I think it’s a genuine flaw, because these guys should have been head down and circumspect as fuck from the moment the arrow-shooting jumped off. Thing is, the pacing was so aggressive, the escalation and cringey gore so consistent, the final girl such a beast, and the family such a bunch of entitled, misanthropic 1%-er assholes (played to perfection), and the overall aesthetic so solid that I was far too busy having fun to linger around and nitpick the gaps in logic. I mean, the whole scene with the sister running into the wire and the dad coaching her on about how he really does believe in her–it was so ridiculous on its face, but it’s such an intense, well-shot little scene that ends with such an abrupt, grisly, and mean-spiritedly humorous hard stop that I kinda loved it.

    Intentional or not, there’s a social commentary element as far as what a bunch of jaded, clueless, de-sensitized trust fund assholes these guys are, to include Zee, who represents the remorseless, bored psychopathy of this family pushed to its logical extreme. Like attracts like, and the only real difference between her and and this family is that she has the the clarity, self-awareness, and guts to be honest and articulate about what a de-sensitized amoral misanthrope she is. That scene where she enjoins the guy to “Fuck me next to your dead mother” is somehow right there in the sweet spot between almost comical and super chilling.

    No one in this family comes out looking good. There’s a strong implication that the parents have raised these kids to value money and status and to measure their worth based on the money or accolades they’ve accrued, which is why one of them is just a classic antisocial Gordon Gekko/frat bro mind-fucker, while the others are insecure shells who are gripped by a sense of failure and insecurity around their parents. And the way the dad relates to the kids suggest that he has high standards and is more about success and image than warmth and support. I’m not suggesting the dad deserved what he got, much less the mom, but we get clues from some of the things the dad says (and the mansion, and the attire) and the way the kids relate to him and each other, that this outwardly successful family is rotten to the core, that there is a shared value system inculcated in that family that leads them to turn on each other. Hard. This is all juxtaposed against the final girl, who is our moral center in this morally bankrupt house.

  55. Geoffrey, same as I told Sternshein, I do want to temper your expectations about VALENTINE. I view it from two main reference points. One is just the overall canon of sleazy, oddball slasher joints from the 1980s onward. VALENTINE is not a good film, but it plays a number of the standard slasher tropes pretty well, sprinkles in enough flourishes of its own inspired weirdness to be memorable, and has a generally fun MEAN GIRLS kind of spirit to it and is not taking itself to seriously. At the same time, it never dissolves into outright camp or meta. The other, more specific reference point in considering VALENTINE is its contemporaries, the other SCREAM-era slasher joints (besides SCREAM itself), like URBAN LEGEND 1, HALLOWEEN H20, I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, SOLE SURVIVOR, etc. These other films are in my view more-or-less competent, but they are also super bland, take themselves way more seriously than they have a right to, and have very little at all that is memorable to contribute to the annals of slasher cinema. They’re polished, workmanlike, but they lack atmosphere, fun, engaging characters, compelling kills, or much of any anything memorable. Utterly unremarkable and forgettable across the board, these films are, with the possible exception of a couple of decent Michael Myers moments in the otherwise severely overrated H20. VALENTINE is just weird enough to be my cup of tea.

  56. The “my second COVID-era theatrical excursion (after SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME)” award goes to… Ti West’s X. Solid “B”, maybe “B+.” I like what it’s going for. There are motifs and scenes where, I’m like, “no, i’ve never scene anything quite like this before.” Which is not to say that it’s blow your mind out of your ass weird but that it’s strange in the good way. Thumbs up. Cinematical cinema lives to fight another day.

  57. I saw it yesterday and should have a review next week.

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